Challenge of Building Democracy
(i) The Election Commission of India was set-up in January 1950. Sukumar Sen was the first Chief Election Commissioner.
(ii) India’s vast size and low literacy rate etc were some of challenges to hold general elections in 1952. Despite these challenges the election was held successfully in 1952.
Changing Methods of Voting
(i) In the first general election it was decided to place inside each polling booth a box for each candidate with the election symbol of that candidate.
(ii) By 2004 the entire country had shifted to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
First Three General Elections
(i) The Congress dominated in the first three general elections. It had many popular faces like Jawaharlal Nehru, C Rajagopalachari, Vallabhbhai Patel etc. Moreover Jawaharlal Nehru was charismatic and a very popular leader.
(ii) Congress worked at upper level as well as at grass root level. Congress was popularised due to the participation in Civil Disobedience Movement.
(iii) In Kerala, in 1957 the Communist Party came to power in the world for the first time through democratic elections.
(iv) This was the first state where Non-Congress Government was formed after independence.
Nature of Congress Dominance
(i) The dominance of Congress party was in democratic condition. The roots of extraordinary success of the Congress party go back to the legacy of the freedom struggle.
(ii) The Congress brought together diverse groups, whose interests were often contradictory.
(iii) By the time of independence, the Congress was transformed into a rainbow-like social coalition broadly representing India’s diversity in terms of classes and castes, religions and languages and various interests.
(iv) This coalition-like character of Congress gave it an unusual strength.
Tolerance and Management of Factions
(i) Groups within party with diverse ideologies are called factions. Some of these factions were based on ideological considerations but very often these factions were rooted in personal ambitions and rivalries.
(ii) The coalition nature of the Congress party tolerated and in fact encouraged various factions.
Emergence of Opposition Parties
(i) The roots of almost all the Non-Congress parties of toady can be traced to one or the other of the opposition parties of the 1950s.
(ii) These opposition parties offered a sustained and often principled criticism of the policies and practices of the Congress party.
(iii) This kept the ruling party under check and often changed the balance of power within the Congress.
(i) The Congress Socialist Party (CSP) was formed within the Congress in 1934 by a group of young leaders who wanted a more radical and egalitarian Congress.
(ii) In 1948, the Congress amended its Constitution to prevent its members from having a dual party membership. This forced the socialists to form a separate socialist party in 1948.
(iii) They criticised the Congress for favouring capitalists and landlords and for ignoring the workers and peasants.
The Communist Party of India (CPI)
(i) In the early 1920s, communist groups emerged in different parts of India taking inspiration from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
(ii) In 1951 the communist party abandoned the path of violent revolution and decided to participate in the approaching general elections.
(iii) AK Gopalan, SA Dange, EMS Namboodripad; PC Joshi, Ajay Ghosh and P Sundarraya were among the notable leaders of the CPI.
Bhartiya Jana Sangh (BJS)
(i) The Bhartiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 with Shyama Prasad Mukherjee as its founder President.
(ii) It emphasised the idea of one country, one culture and one nation and believed that the country could become modern, progressive and strong on the basis of Indian culture and traditions.
(i) Swantantra party was formed in August in 1959. The party was led by old Congressmen like C. Rajagopalachari, KM Munshi, NG Ranga and Minoo Masani.
(ii) The party was critical of the development strategy of state intervention in the economy, centralised planning, nationalisation and the public sector. It instead fovoured expansion of a free private sector.