1996 Indian general election

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1996 Indian general election
Flag of India.svg
  1991 27 April, 2 May and 7 May 1996 1998  

543 of the 545 seats in the Lok Sabha
272 seats needed for a majority
Turnout57.94% (Increase2.svg 2.06pp)
 First partySecond party
  Atal Bihari Vajpayee.jpg P. V. Narasimha Rao.JPG
Leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee P. V. Narasimha Rao
Leader's seat Lucknow
Gandhinagar (vacated)
Seats won161140
Seat changeIncrease2.svg 41Decrease2.svg 92
Popular vote67,950,85196,455,493
SwingIncrease2.svg 0.18ppDecrease2.svg 7.46pp

Wahlergebnisse Indien 1996.svg

Prime Minister before election

P. V. Narasimha Rao

Elected Prime Minister

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

General elections were held in India on 27 April, 2 May and 7 May 1996 to elect the members of the 11th Lok Sabha. The elections resulted in a hung parliament with no single party having a clear majority. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won the most seats, formed a short-lived government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, two weeks later the United Front coalition was able to secure a parliamentary majority and H. D. Deve Gowda of Janata Dal became Prime Minister. In 1997 Inder Kumar Gujral, also from the United Front, succeeded Gowda as Prime Minister. Due to the instability, early elections were held in 1998. The elections were the first since 1980 in which every states' seats were elected in a single election period.



The Indian National Congress government of Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao came into the election on the back of several government scandals and accusations of mishandling. Seven cabinet members had resigned during the previous term, and Rao himself faced charges of corruption. The Congress Party more generally had been plagued in recent years by a series of splits, issues conflicts and factional disputes that had seen various key regional parties and figures abandon the party. In particular, the high-profile May 1995 defection of Arjun Singh and Narayan Datt Tiwari to form the new All India Indira Congress (Tiwari) party underscored the internal divisions within the INC.

The government was further weakened by a series of major scandals breaking less than 12 months from the election. In July 1995 it was found a former Congress youth leader had murdered his wife and tried to destroy the evidence by stuffing her corpse into a tandoor. In August 1995 the Vohra Report was finally released to the parliament, decrying that a politician-criminal nexus was "virtually running a parallel government, pushing the state apparatus into irrelevance". [1] Government credibility fell further still when in late 1995 when violence significantly worsened in the Kashmir region, and sporadic fighting and ethnic tensions boiled over in Punjab province. As a result of the scandals, the Rao government went into the 1996 election at a low of ebb of public support. [2]


The elections triggered a significant realignment of political forces in Indians, with all-India parties attempting to construct widespread regional coalitions with minor parties in order to secure a central majority. Such political negotiations were to become an increasingly necessary process in Indian politics over the next two decades as the dominance of the INC declined and smaller, ethnic and regional parties took its place. The Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Lal Krishna Advani attempted to add several regional coalition partners - most notably the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Bahujan Samaj Party, but was ultimately unsuccessful in overcoming ideological differences. Yet it did join with several strong regional partners - Shiv Sena, Haryana Vikas Party, and the Samata Party. The Congress party attempted to form regional allies as well, most notably with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). [3] [4]

The so-called "Third Force" during the 1996 elections was the National Front (NF). After its collapse in 1990, the coalition had chopped and changed before reuniting in the run up to the 1996 election. Three main parties grouped back together in September 1995 in hopes of presenting a viable political choice - the Left Front, Janata Dal and the Telugu Desam Party. It attempted to build a wider coalition of regional partners and state parties, however negotiations repeatedly broke down, and no consensus could be arrived at on a 'common minimum program' - a platform of issues on which all parties could agree upon. A split in the Uttar Pradesh government in December 1995 divided the front further. Finally, lacking a strong leader or common set of principles, the main three parties joined with the Samajwadi Party in a common goal of simply denying power to either the Congress or BJP. Thus a characteristic of the 1996 elections was a large number of strong regional and state parties declined to form an alliance with any of the three major contenders for government. [5]

In January only a few months before the election, a major scandal erupted: the Jain hawala scandal. Jain, an industrialist in the steel and power sectors, was revealed to have given US$33 million in bribes to politicians from nearly all major parties in return for favours. Further shocking the public, Jain had also channelled money to Kashmiri Muslim militants. In the first wave of names implicated were three Rao cabinet members, Arjun Singh from the breakaway Congress (T) party, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani, Sharad Yadav (leader of the Janata Dal Parliamentary Party), and former Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Almost 115 names would eventually be released, and numerous candidates and ministers were forced to resign in the aftermath. Most significantly was the forced resignation of L.K. Advani, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee taking over as leader of the BJP. [6]

The BJP ran a campaign centred around a four-point plan which aimed for probity of public life, self-reliance in the economy, social harmony and greater security. It strongly advocated an economic plan which would significantly scale back government intervention and encourage capital investment and creation. It stressed the role of Hindutva in its vision for India, creating a more Hindu orientated state by banning cow slaughter, introducing a uniform civil code and removing the special status of Kashmir. The Congress Party attempted to campaign on its foreign policy record, its handling of the numerous natural and ethnic crises that had emerged over the past five years, and on better concessions for ethnic minorities and separated state governments. It additionally stressed the economic gains already made by the government due to its Liberalization policies post 1992. Janata Dal and the National Front campaigned on maintaining a strong public sector though with some commitment to deregulation and anti-corruption measures. It pushed other more populist measures as well, such as more state-run infrastructure projects, subsidised fertilizer, and increased education investment. [7]


The election delivered an unclear mandate and resulted in a hung parliament. The result was the worst result for the INC in history to that date, with commentators blaming the poor result on the personal unpopularity of Prime Minister Rao and the numerous internal divisions that had dogged the party. Congress was almost wiped out in its traditional strongholds of Uttar Pradesh & Bihar with many stalwarts like Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav, Jagannath Mishra, Satyendra Narain Sinha suffered electoral setbacks. [8] The BJP became the largest party within the Lok Sabha, a first for a non-Congress party, although it secured neither a significant increase in the popular vote or enough seats to secure a parliamentary majority. [9]

Following Westminster custom, Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee as leader of the BJP to form a government. Sworn in on 15 May, the new Prime Minister was given two weeks to prove majority support in parliament. In the weeks leading up to the first confidence vote on 31 May, the BJP attempted to build a coalition by moderating positions to garner support from regional and Muslim parties, however sectarian issues and fears of certain nationalist policies of the BJP hampered efforts. On 28 May, Vajpayee conceded that he could not arrange support from more than 200 of the 545 members of parliament, and thus resigned rather than face the confidence vote, ending his 13-day government. [10]

The second largest party, the Indian National Congress, declined to attempt to form a government, instead choosing to support one headed by Janata Dal, and chose Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Deve Gowda to assume the Prime Minister post. Janata Dal and a bloc of smaller parties thus formed the United Front, [9] with outside support from INC. Gowda resigned on 21 April 1997 to pave way for I. K. Gujral, who maintained good relations with INC.

However the Fodder Scam resulted in many United Front members demanding the resignation of Lalu Prasad Yadav, an alliance partner and the then Chief Minister of Bihar. Yadav retaliated by breaking away from Janata Dal and forming Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on 3 July 1997. Out of 45 Janata Dal members of parliament, 17 left the party and supported Yadav. However, the new party continued in the United Front and Gujral's government was saved from immediate danger. Gujral resigned 11 months later when INC withdrew support to the government, and the country went back to the polls in 1998.

Lok Sabha Zusammensetzung 1996.svg
Indian National Congress 96,455,49328.80140
Bharatiya Janata Party 67,950,85120.29161
Janata Dal 27,070,3408.0846
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 20,496,8106.1232
Bahujan Samaj Party 13,453,2354.0211
Samajwadi Party 10,989,2413.2817
Telugu Desam Party 9,931,8262.9716
Tamil Maanila Congress 7,339,9822.1920
Samata Party 7,256,0862.178
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 7,151,3812.1417
Communist Party of India 6,582,2631.9712
Shiv Sena 4,989,9941.4915
All India Indira Congress (Tiwari) 4,903,0701.464
NTR Telugu Desam Party (Lakshmi Parvathi) 3,249,2670.970
Asom Gana Parishad 2,560,5060.765
Shiromani Akali Dal 2,534,9790.768
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 2,130,2860.640
Revolutionary Socialist Party 2,105,4690.635
Republican Party of India 1,454,3630.430
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 1,287,0720.381
All India Forward Bloc 1,279,4920.383
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 1,235,8120.370
Haryana Vikas Party 1,156,3220.353
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation 808,0650.240
Indian Union Muslim League 757,3160.232
Janata Party 631,0210.190
Karnataka Congress Party 581,8680.171
Pattali Makkal Katchi 571,9100.170
Peasants and Workers Party of India 437,8050.130
Indian Congress (Socialist) 404,2610.120
Kerala Congress (M) 382,3190.111
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen 340,0700.101
Shiromani Akali Dal (Simranjit Singh Mann) 339,5200.100
Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress 337,5390.101
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh 329,6950.100
Kerala Congress 320,5390.100
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Mardi)299,0550.090
United Minorities Front, Assam 244,5710.070
Apna Dal 222,6690.070
Autonomous State Demand Committee 180,1120.051
Forward Bloc (Socialist) 172,6850.050
Gujarat Adijati Vikash Paksh166,0030.050
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party 129,2200.041
Sikkim Democratic Front 124,2180.041
Federal Party of Manipur 120,5570.040
Marxist Co-ordination Committee 114,4060.030
Krantikari Samajwadi Manch113,9750.030
Mizo National Front 111,7100.030
United Goans Democratic Party 109,3460.031
Jharkhand Party (Naren)102,1110.030
Jammu & Kashmir Panthers Party99,5990.030
Savarn Samaj Party84,7250.030
Jharkhand Party 78,9070.020
Majlis Bachao Tahreek 78,3350.020
Nag Vidarbha Andolan Samiti 66,0650.020
Peoples Democratic Party 65,6410.020
Amra Bangali 65,5950.020
Mahabharat People's Party64,2660.020
Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha 60,3610.020
Jharkhand People's Party 58,1320.020
Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar) 52,5850.020
Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti 52,3000.020
Akhil Bharatiya Jan Sangh 49,9780.010
Satya Marg Party48,0560.010
Sikkim Sangram Parishad 42,1750.010
Lok Hit Party37,1270.010
United Tribal Nationalist Liberation Front 34,8030.010
Pavitra Hindustan Kaazhagam34,1470.010
Marxist Communist Party of India (S.S. Srivastava) 33,9000.010
Kannada Chalevali Vatal Paksha31,1360.010
Akhil Bharatiya Bhrastachar Normoolan Sena30,9700.010
Hul Jharkhand Party 30,2200.010
Bhoomijotak Samooh29,8740.010
Proutist Sarva Samaj Samiti26,4030.010
Akhil Bhartiya Loktantra Party25,1310.010
Republican Party of India (Athawale) 22,6400.010
Uttar Pradesh Republican Party22,5150.010
Anaithinthiya Thamizhaga Munnetra Kazhag19,3940.010
New India Party19,1350.010
Bhatiya Krishi Udyog Sangh17,7440.010
Indian National League 15,9540.000
Jan Parishad15,1120.000
Rashtriya Nayay Party13,1600.000
Lokdal 11,9570.000
Shoshit Samaj Dal11,9370.000
Bahujan Kranti Dal (JAI)11,7350.000
Mahakushal Vikas Party11,1520.000
Jansatta Party10,9010.000
Bharatiya Minorities Suraksha Mahasangh 10,6570.000
Republican Party of India (Democratic) 10,0720.000
Gondwana Ganatantra Party 9,9850.000
Pragtisheel Manav Samaj Party9,9740.000
Akhil Bharatiya Berozgaar Party9,8130.000
Janhit Morcha9,4040.000
Hindustan Janata Party 9,2080.000
Rashtriya Samajwadi Party 'pragatisheel'8,7790.000
Lok Party8,7580.000
Pachim Banga Rajya Muslim League8,6240.000
Republican Party of India (Khobragade) 8,4910.000
Akhil Bhartiya Janata Vikas Party7,7260.000
Arya Sabha7,5630.000
Bharatiya Jan Sabha7,3380.000
Republican Presidium Party of India7,2980.000
Bahujan Kranti Dal6,9680.000
Political Party of National Management Service6,6670.000
Rashtriya Surajya Parishad6,0000.000
Samajwadi Janata Party (Maharashtra)5,7840.000
Maharashtra Pradesh Krantikari Party5,7650.000
Akhil Bartiya Manav Seva Dal5,6730.000
National Republican Party5,2710.000
Indian Democratic Party5,0840.000
Bharatiya Lok Tantrik Mazdoor Dal5,0750.000
Surajya Party4,9170.000
Hindu Mahasabha 4,7200.000
Rashtriya Aikta Manch4,5740.000
National Democratic Peoples Front4,4620.000
Bolshevik Party of India 4,3450.000
Bharatiya Lok Panchayat4,0180.000
Bharatiya Rashtriya Party3,7240.000
Rashtriya Kisan Party3,6350.000
Akhil Bharatiya Mahasand Sarvahara Krantikari Party3,5520.000
Bharatiya Labour Party3,5500.000
Rashtriya Unnatsheel Das3,4760.000
Rashtriya Samdarshi Party3,3600.000
Vijeta Party3,3280.000
Satyayug Party3,3190.000
Bharatiya Rashtriya Morcha3,1810.000
Rashtriya Mazdoor Ekta Party3,1760.000
Marxist Engelist Leninist Proletariat Health Commune3,1550.000
Akhil Bharatiya Rashtriya Azad Hind Party3,1520.000
Bahujan Samaj Party (Raj Bahadur)3,1140.000
Socialist Party (Lohia)3,0060.000
Kannada Paksha2,8830.000
Bharatiya Manav Raksha Dal2,7960.000
Akhil Bharatiya Dalit Utthan Party2,6540.000
Akhil Bharatiya Desh Bhakt Morcha2,2950.000
Indian Secular Congress2,1360.000
Bira Oriya Party2,0880.000
Republican Party of India (Sivaraj)2,0810.000
Bharathiya Nethaji Party2,0240.000
Bharatiya Rajiv Congress1,9670.000
Bharatiya Jantantrik Parishad1,8670.000
Ekta Samaj Party1,8520.000
Congress Of People1,8500.000
Revolutionary Communist Party Of India (Rasik Bhatt) 1,8030.000
Bhartiya Ekta Party1,8010.000
Shoshit Samaj Party1,6840.000
Samajwadi Dal1,6370.000
Akhil Bharatiya Shivsena Rashtrawadi1,4770.000
Bharatiya Kranti Sena1,4390.000
Indian Democratic People's Party1,4380.000
Ekta Krandi Dal U.P.1,4090.000
Indian Bahujan Samajwadi Party1,3760.000
Sarvadharam Party (Madhya Pradesh)1,3270.000
People's Democratic League of India1,2760.000
Punjab Vikas Party (Punjab)1,1850.000
Desh Bhakt Party1,1480.000
Sabjan Party1,1200.000
Akhil Bharatiya Lok Tantrik Alp-Sankhyak Jan Morcha1,1110.000
Kisan Vyawasayee Mazdoor Party1,0560.000
Pratap Shiv Sena1,0490.000
Adarsh Lok Dal1,0370.000
Gareebjan Samaj Party9620.000
Akhil Bharatiya Dharmnirpeksh Dal8940.000
All India Azad Hind Mazdur & Jan Kalyan Party8830.000
Bahujan Loktantrik Party8570.000
Socialist Party (Ramakant Pandey)8480.000
Manav Sewa Sangh8410.000
Bharatiya Samajwadi Vikas Party8050.000
Akhil Bhartiya Rajarya Sabha7870.000
Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)7860.000
Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad 7240.000
Ambedkar Kranti Dal6670.000
Bhartiya Jan Kisan Party6330.000
Mahabharath Mahajan Sabha5720.000
Bharatiya Samaj Sangathan Morcha5350.000
Rashtriya Bharat Nav Nirman Sangathan5280.000
Samajik Kranti Dal5220.000
Rashtriya Krantikari Dal5200.000
Bharat Jan Party5050.000
Hind National Party4960.000
Sachet Bharat Party4700.000
Bhartiya Azad Party4570.000
Bhrishtachar Virodhi Dal4340.000
Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad (Prem Ballabh Vyas)4280.000
Tamil Nadu Hindu Vellalar Youth Kazhagam4220.000
Pragati Sheel Party4070.000
Socialist League of India3840.000
United Indian Democratic Council3740.000
Rashtriya Samaj Sevak Dal3480.000
Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Morcha3450.000
Hindu Praja Party3320.000
Janata Kranti Congress3240.000
Mukt Bharat2950.000
Jan Swarajya Party2780.000
Gujarat Janta Parishad2660.000
Bharat Pensioner's Front2310.000
Bharatiya Parivartan Morcha2310.000
All India Democratic People Federation1950.000
Akhil Bharatiya Jagrook Nagrik Dal1760.000
Federation of Sabhas1420.000
Hind Kisan Mazdoor Party1310.000
Poorvanchal Rashtriya Congress1240.000
Kranti Dal1120.000
Jan Ekata Morcha940.000
Bharatiya Sarvkalyan Krantidal890.000
Manav Samaj Party740.000
Labour Party of India (V.V. Prasad)680.000
Bharatiya Rashtrawadi Dal530.000
Nominated Anglo-Indians 2
Valid votes334,873,28697.54
Invalid/blank votes8,434,8042.46
Total votes343,308,090100.00
Registered voters/turnout592,572,28857.94
Source: ECI

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