The 11th Lok Sabha elections were held in 1996. Congress govt. of 1991 under PV Narasimha Rao was engulfed in scams. Cash for votes scam and split within party hurt Congress. BJP emerged as the single largest party with 161 seats. President invited Vajpayee to form govt. but he couldn’t get the numbers. His term lasted for 13 days and he resigned without facing a confidence vote. Congress was the no. 2 party with 140 seats but declined to form govt. Instead it chose to provide outside support to Janata Dal to form a coalition govt. Janata Dal with 46 MPs formed the govt. with Deve Gowda as Prime Minister. Communists with 44 seats also provided outside support The United Front govt. consisted of Samajwadi Party (17), Tamil Manila Congress (20), DMK (17) and Assam Gana Parishad (5) seats among others.

HD Deve Gowda was a surprise choice as PM. He emerged as the consensus candidate. Lalu Yadav was the most powerful and popular Janata Dal leader and tipped to be PM. However he faced stiff opposition from other Yadav’s Mulayam and Sharad Yadav. Plus his name featured in fodder scam which went against him.

Congress pulled the plug from under Deve Gowda’s feet in 11 months as he was not giving importance to Congress and not consulting it in key decisions. IK Gujral was chosen as PM after Gowda and he too remained in power for similar time. Central Bureau of Investigation wanted to prosecute Lalu in fodder scam and requested govt. for approval. Lalu had to resign and he floated his own party Rashtriya Janata Dal with 17 MPs. Gujral removed CBI chief Joginder Singh and this was seen as acting under pressure from Lalu. Congress demanded that DMK be thrown out of govt. after its name surfaced in a report as having links with LTTE responsible for killing their leader Rajiv Gandhi. It is ironical that Congress tied up with the same DMK which was part of UPA I & II. After Gujral refused, Congress pulled the plug.

8 national parties and 201 state parties fought for 543 seats. Congress lost heavily in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu which accounted for 88 of the 92 lower seats in 1996 vis-a-vis 1991. BJP gained 34 seats in Bihar, MP and Maharashtra. Janata Dal lost 29 seats in Bihar and UP which led to its lower seats.

Parties Seats Won Change Votes%
BHARATIYA JANTA PARTY(BJP) 161 41 20%
INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS (INC) 140 (92) 29%
JANTA DAL (JD) 46 (13) 8%
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MARXIST) ( CPM) 32 (3) 6%
TAMIL MAANILA CONGRESS (MOOPANAR)(TMC)(M) 20 20 2%
SAMAJWADI PARTY(SP) 17 17 3%
DRAVIDA MUNNETRA KAZHAGAM(DMK) 17 17 2%
OTHER STATE / UNRECOGNISED PARTIES 21 (10) 7%
TELGU DESAM PARTY(TDP) 16 3 3%
SHIVSENA(SHS) 15 11 1%
COMMUNIST  PARTY OF INDIA (CPI) 12 (2) 2%
BAHUJAN SAMAJ PARTY(BSP) 11 9 4%
INDEPENDENTS (IND) 9 8 6%
SAMATA PARTY(SAP) 8 3 2%
AKALI DAL 8 8 1%
REVOLUTIONIST SOCIALIST PARTY (RSP) 5 1 1%
ASOM GANA PARISHAD 5 4 1%
TOTAL 543   100%

Source: Statistical Report, Election Commission of India, 1996, Wikipedia

*TMC was formed by G.K. Moopnar who split from Congress.

**Samajwadi Party was formed as an offshoot of Janata Dal.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Voting population was 59.3 crores (2009 elections 71.4 crores)
  • Voting % was 57.5% (2009 elections 59.7%)
  • 13,952 candidates participated, 25.69 per constituency (2009 average 14.86)
  • 90.9% candidates lost their deposits (2009 elections 84.6%)