As the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies are heading towards an emphatic election win, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attributed the victory to the country. Modi, who is all set to start his second straight term as the prime minister, has tweeted that India has won. “Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again,” he said on his Twitter handle.
In fact, Modi’s landslide victory is a major milestone in India's electoral history. It will be the first time in 48 years that an incumbent prime minister heading a majority government is voting back with majority. After Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Modi is only the third prime minister to achieve this feat.
Modi’s poll victory in 2014 was equally remarkable. When the National Democratic alliance clinched victory in 2014, the BJP won 282 seats in the Lok Sabha. It was the first time in three decades that any party had acquired an absolute majority.
Jawaharlal Nehru won around three-fourth of the Lok Sabha seats in the first elections in the country during 1951-52. Subsequently, he was able to win 1957 elections as well as 1962 elections with full majority.
Since the elections were happening for the first time in the independent India in 1951, the polling had to be spread over a period of five months from October 1951 to February 1952.
While the Congress hegemony was insurmountable in 1951, various other political strands such as Bhartiya Jana Sangh, Kisaan Mazdoor Praja Party, Scheduled Caste Federation and Socialist Party had started to take shape by then.
The Congress was able to win 364 out of 489 seats during 1951-52 elections. The party polled around 45 per cent of the total votes then.
In 1957, when Nehru was up for re-election, India was going through a difficult phase as the PM was battling the right wing inside and outside his party after passage of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955.
The country was facing many language disputes. Consequently, after establishment of States Reorganisation Committee in 1953, many states were formed on the basis of language. The country was also feeling the heat due to food insecurity.
However, among all this, Nehru was able to win a spectacular victory of 371 seats in 1957 elections. The Congress's vote share even increased from 45 per cent in 1951-52 to 47.78 per cent in 1957.
In 1962 elections, Nehru won again bagging 361 seats out of total 494 seats in Lok Sabha.
After 20 years of Independence, the Congress's hegemony in the country's politics finally started breaking down in 1967 when it lost six state assembly elections. Out of this six, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal was lost by the Congress for the very first time.
However, in 1967 elections, Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi was able to get 283 seats out of total 520 seats. This was Indira's first electoral victory in general elections. In 1969, Indira expelled the old guard of the party, which were called as Congress (O). This section of Congress was led by Morarji Desai.
It was during this time that Indira coined the slogan ‘Garibi hatao’, which found a wide emotive appeal among the Indian voters. As a result, she was able to increase her tally to 352 in 1971 elections for her second term.
In between 2010 and 2014, with UPA government facing multiple allegations of massive corruption scandals, the BJP decided to appoint the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as their prime minister candidate for 2014 general elections.
There have been two more instances of a prime minister being returned to power in successive elections — Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 and Manmohan Singh in 2009. However, in both cases, the BJP and Congress had to rely on the support of allies to cross the halfway mark in the Lok Sabha.
(With inputs from agencies)