Indian general election, 2004

Indian general election, 2004

Infobox Election
election_name = Indian general election, 2004
country = India
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = Indian general election, 1999
previous_year = 1999
next_election = Indian general election, 2009
next_year = 2009
election_date = April 20, April 26, May 5 and May 10, 2004
seats_for_election = All 543 seats in the Lok Sabha

leader1 = Sonia Gandhi
party1 = Indian National Congress
leaders_seat1 = Raebareli
seats1 = 145
seat_change1 = +32
popular_vote1 = 103,405,272
percentage1 = 26.7%
swing1 = -1.6%

leader2 = Atal Bihari Vajpayee
leaders_seat2 = Lucknow
party2 = Bharatiya Janta Party
seats2 = 138
seat_change2 = -44
popular_vote2 = 85,866,593
percentage2 = 22.2%
swing2 = -1.5%


map_size = 350px
map_caption = Results of the National and Regional parties.

title = PM
before_election = Atal Bihari Vajpayee
before_party = Bharatiya Janta Party
after_election = Manmohan Singh
after_party = Indian National Congress

Legislative elections were held in India, the world's largest democracy, in four phases between April 20 and May 10, 2004. Over 670 million people were eligible to vote, electing 543 members of the 14th Lok Sabha (the House of the People, the lower house of the Indian legislature). On May 13, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party conceded defeat. The Indian National Congress was able to put together a comfortable majority of more than 335 members out of 543 (including external support from BSP, SP, MDMK and the Left front) with the help of its allies under the direction of Indian National Congress president, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. This post-poll alliance was called the United Progressive Alliance.

However, Mrs.Gandhi surprised almost all observers by declining to become the new prime minister. Instead, she asked former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, well-respected economist, to take control of the new government. Singh had previously served under Congress Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in the early-1990s, where he was seen as one of the architects of India's first economic liberalization plan that staved off an impending national monetary crisis.

Seven states also held assembly elections to elect state governments along with the parliamentary elections.


Results by region

*Andhra Pradesh
*Arunachal Pradesh
*Himachal Pradesh
*Jammu & Kashmir
*Madhya Pradesh
*Uttar Pradesh
*West Bengal

National election result

National summary of votes and seats

Votes and seats of the major parties are compared with those won in the 1999 election

Election map

Elected MPs

See separate article, List of Members of the 14th Lok Sabha

Results by party

There are a maximum of 545 members of Parliament: 543 elected, and two may be nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian community. Repolling was ordered in four constituencies due to irregularities. The results in the remaining constituencies were as follows (parties recognised by the Election Commission as national parties are in "italics", and regional or state parties in Roman font):

*Congress and Allies: 275
**"Indian National Congress: 145"
**Samajwadi Party: 39
**Rashtriya Janata Dal: 21
**Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam: 16
**"Nationalist Congress Party: 9"
**Kerala Congress: 2
**Pattali Makkal Katchi: 6
**Telangana Rashtra Samithi: 5
**Jharkhand Mukti Morcha: 5
** ??Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam: 4--withdrew support
**Lok Jan Shakti Party: 3
**Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party: 1
**Republican Party of India: 1
**Muslim League: 1
*BJP and Allies: 185
**"Bharatiya Janata Party: 138"
**Shiv Sena: 12
**Biju Janata Dal: 11
**Shiromani Akali Dal: 8
**Janata Dal (United): 7
**??Nationalist Trinamool Congress: 2 --withdrew
**Nagaland People's Front: 1
**??Mizo National Front: 1 -- withdrew
*Left Parties: 60
**"Communist Party of India (Marxist): 43"
**"Communist Party of India: 10"
**Revolutionary Socialist Party: 3
**All India Forward Bloc: 3
**LDF-supported Independent: 1
*Other Parties: 78
**Bahujan Samaj Party: 17
**Telugu Desam Party: 5
**Janata Dal (Secular): 4
**Rashtriya Lok Dal: 3
**Asom Gana Parishad: 2
**Jammu and Kashmir National Conference: 2
**Indian Federal Democratic Party: 1
**Loktantrik Jan Samta Party: 1
**All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen: 1
**Bharatiya Navshakti Party: 1
**National Loktantrik Party: 1
**Sikkim Democratic Front: 1
**Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya): 1
*Independents: 3


The election dates for the parliamentary elections were:
* April 20 - 141 constituencies
* April 26 - 137 constituencies
* May 5 - 83 constituencies
* May 10 - 182 constituencies

Counting began simultaneously on 13 May. Over 370 million of the 675 million eligible citizens voted, with election violence claiming 48 lives, less than half the number killed during the 1999 election. The Indian elections were held in phases in order to maintain law and order. A few states considered sensitive areas required deployment of the armed forces. The average enrollment of voters in each constituency is 1.2 million, although the largest constituency has 3.1 million.

The Election Commission of India is responsible for deciding the dates and conducting elections according to constitutional provisions. The Election Commission employed more than a million electronic voting machines for these elections.

According to the magazine "India Today", 115.62 billion rupees (approx USD 2.6 billion) were expected to have been spent in campaigning for the elections by all political parties combined. Most of the money was spent on the people involved in the election. The Election Commission limited poll expenses to Rs. 2.5 million (USD 57,000 approx.) per constituency. Thus, the actual spending is expected to have been approximately 10 times the limit. About 6.5 billion rupees (approx. USD 150 million) are estimated to have been spent on mobilising 150,000 vehicles. About a billion rupees are estimated to have been spent on helicopters and aircraft.

Political background

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had recommended premature dissolution of the 13th Lok Sabha (in accordance with a provision of the Constitution) to pave the way for early elections apparently in view of the recent good showing of the BJP in the Assembly elections in four states. The two "major parties" in India are the BJP (led by Vajpayee) and the Congress (led by Sonia Gandhi).

Pre-poll alliances

In these elections, compared to all the Lok Sabha elections of the 1990s, the battle was more of a head-to-head contest in the sense that there was no viable third front alternative. Largely the contest was between BJP and its allies on one hand and Congress and its allies on the other. The situation did, however, show large regional differences.

The BJP fought the elections as part of the NDA, although some of its seat-sharing agreements were made with strong regional parties outside of the NDA such as Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.

Ahead of the elections there were attempts to form a Congress-led national level joint opposition front. In the end, an agreement could not be reached, but on regional level alliances between Congress and regional parties were made in several states. This was the first time that Congress contested with that type of alliances in a parliamentary election.

The left parties, most notably the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, contested on their own in their strongholds West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, confronting both Congress and NDA forces. In several other states, such as Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, they took part in seat sharings with Congress. In Tamil Nadu they were part of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance.

Two parties refused to go along with either Congress or BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party. Both are based in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India. Congress made several attempts to form alliances with them, but in vain. Many believed that they would become the 'spoilers' that would rob Congress of an electoral victory. The result was a four-cornered contest in UP, which didn't really hurt or benefit Congress or BJP significantly.

Forecast and campaigns

Most analysts believed the NDA would win the elections; this assessment was also supported by opinion polls. The economy had shown steady growth in the last few months and the disinvestment of government owned production units (a continuation of India's liberalisation policies initiated in the early 1990s) had been on track. The Foreign Exchange Reserves of India stood at more than USD 100 billion (7th largest in the world and a record for India). The service sector had also generated a lot of jobs. The party was supposed to have been riding on a wave of the so-called "feel good factor", typified by its promotional campaign "India Shining".

In the past, BJP has largely been seen as a hard-line Hindu party with close ties with the Hindu organisation the RSS. Over the years, the party has slightly distanced itself from its "Hindutva" policies, a change that is being questioned after the party's poor showing in the elections. These elections were marked by the campaign's emphasis on economic gains. From the last few elections, BJP had realised that its voter base had reached a ceiling and had concentrated on pre-poll rather than post-poll alliances. The foreign origin of Sonia Gandhi also constituted part of the NDA's campaign.


Though pre-poll predictions were for an overwhelming majority for the BJP, the exit polls (immediately after the elections and before the counting began) predicted a hung parliament. However, even the exit polls could only indicate the general trend and nowhere close to the final figures. There is also the general perception that as soon as the BJP started realising that events might not proceed entirely in its favour, it changed the focus of its campaign from "India Shining" to issues of stability.

The reverses in the pre-poll predictions are ascribed to various reasons depending on the point of view.

* People were more concerned about issues of their immediate environment such as water scarcity, drought, etc., than national issues.
* The anti-incumbency factor was at work for the BJP allies.


The rout of the ruling parties in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the general elections led to calls for the dissolution of the governments of these states.

The stock market (Bombay Stock Exchange) fell in the week prior to the announcement of the results due to fears of an unstable coalition. As soon as counting began, however, it became clear that the Congress coalition was headed for a sizeable lead over the NDA and the market surged, only to crash the following day when the left parties, whose support would be required for government formation, announced that it was their intention to do away with the disinvestment ministry. Following this, Manmohan Singh, the current Prime Minister and the prime architect of the economic liberalization of the early 1990s, hurried to reassure investors that the new government would strive to create a business-friendly climate.


* May 13 - The Congress and allies win a plurality of seats in the Lok Sabha (219 seats against 188 for the BJP).
* May 13 - Counting of votes in the parliamentary elections begins.
* May 11 - Congress wins the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh by 2/3 majority.
* May 10 - The fourth and final phase of elections comes to an end. Results will come out for 542 of the 543 parliament seats with elections to be held again in Chhapra.
* May 5 - Third phase of polling comes to an end with the ruling coalition government gaining seats according to exit polls but still off the victory target. Reports of booth capturing in Chhapra capture headlines.
* April 26 - Second phase of elections sees 55-60% polling. This is the final phase for assembly elections. Polling covers 136 parliamentary constituencies in 11 states. The share market starts to crash as it becomes evident that the NDA government may find it hard to come back to power -- raising doubts about the continuation of economic reforms initiated by the NDA government.
* April 22 - Tripura, where polling was delayed because of a local holiday, votes for its two MPs. A turnout of close to 60% is reported, despite calls for abstention made by separatist militants.
* April 20 - The first phase of the vote is held, with average turnouts of between 50% and 55%. Voting is reported as brisk, and the day unfolds relatively smoothly, albeit with some glitches reported with the electronic voting machines. Isolated violent incidents take place in Kashmir, Jammu, Manipur, and Jharkhand.
* April 8 - The NDA's top leaders meet in New Delhi to adopt its manifesto for the elections, "Agenda for Development and Good Governance".
* April 7 - Ram Jethmalani says he will contest the elections against Prime Minister Vajpayee as an independent candidate from Lucknow. He claims he will be supported by the Congress and some other parties.
* April 6 - The BJP and the AIADMK tell the Election Commission that they will not stop raising the issue of the foreign origin of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
* April 4 - A FIR is lodged against external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha for alleged violation of election code of conduct during a poll meeting in Ranchi. Besides Sinha, FIRs were lodged against three other BJP leaders who participated in the meeting.

See also

*State Assembly Elections in India, 2004
*Election Commission of India

External links

* [ Election Commission of India]
* [ Parliament of India]
* [ Indian National Congress]
* [ BJP]
* [ Interactive map at]
* [ Elections 2004 - Poll Graphics from The Hindu]
* [ Indian Electronic Voting Machines Compared With Diebold ]

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