Indian general election, 1977

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All 542 seats in the Lok Sabha
272 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Morarji Desai Indira Gandhi
Party JP INC
Alliance Janata alliance Congress alliance
Leader's seat Surat Rae Bareli
Seats won 345 189
Seat change +233 -217
Percentage 51.89 40.98

Prime Minister before election

Indira Gandhi

Elected Prime Minister

Morarji Desai
Janata alliance

In a major turn of events, the Congress lost control of India for the first time in independent India in the Indian general election, 1977. Janata Party leader Morarji Desai, who had been released from prison two months before the elections, won 298 seats. Desai became India's first non-Congress Prime Minister on March 24. The Congress lost nearly 200 seats. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her powerful son Sanjay Gandhi both lost their seats.

The election came after the end of The Emergency that Prime Minister Gandhi had imposed in 1975; it effectively ended democracy, suppressed the opposition, and took control of the media with authoritarian measures. The opposition called for a restoration of democracy and Indians saw the election results as a repudiation of the Emergency.[2]


India held general elections to the 6th Lok Sabha. This sixth general elections, which were conducted for 542 seats from 542 constituencies, represented 27 Indian states and union territories.[3] These 542 constituencies were remain same until Indian general elections, 2004 for the 14th Lok Sabha.

The state of Emergency declared by the Congress government was the core issue in the 1977 elections. Civil liberties were suspended during the national emergency from 25 June 1975 to 21 March 1977 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assumed vast powers.

Gandhi had become extremely unpopular for her decision and paid for it during the elections. Gandhi, on January 23, called fresh elections for March and released all political prisoners. Four Opposition parties, the Organisation Congress, the Jan Sangh, the Bharatiya Lok Dal and the Socialist Party, decided to fight the elections as a single party, called the Janata Party.

The Janata Party reminded voters of excesses and human rights violations during the Emergency, like compulsory sterilisation and imprisonment of political leaders. The Janata campaign said the elections would decide whether India would have "democracy or dictatorship." The Congress looked jittery: Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Babu Jagjivan Ram quit the party, and he was one among many.

The Congress tried to woo voters by speaking about the need for a strong government but the tide was against it.

Voter behaviour

The elections in the largest state Uttar Pradesh, historically a Congress stronghold, turned against Gandhi. Dhanagare says the structural reasons included the emergence of a strong and united opposition, disunity and weariness inside Congress, an effective underground opposition, and the ineffectiveness of Gandhi's control of the mass media, which had lost much credibility. The structural factors allowed voters to express their grievances, notably their resentment of the emergency and its authoritarian and repressive policies. One grievance often mentioned as the 'nasbandi' (vasectomy) campaign in rural areas. The middle classes also emphasized also the curbing of freedom throughout the state and India.[4] Meanwhile Congress hit an all-time low in West Bengal, according to the Gangulys, because of the poor discipline and factionalism among Congress activists as well as the numerous defections that weakened the party. Opponents emphasized the issues of corruption in Congress and appealed to a deep desire by the voters for fresh leadership.[5]


Results by alliance

Source: Keesings[6] Template:Indian general elections results by alliance 1977

Results by Party

Lok Sabha elections 1977

Electoral participation: 60,49%    

% 545
Bharatiya Lok Dal/Janata Party BLD 41,32 295
Communist Party of India CPI 2,82 7
Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) 4,29 22
Indian National Congress (Indira)INC(I) 34,52 154
Indian National Congress (Organization)INC(O) 5,28 13
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam AIADMK 2,9 18
All India Forward Bloc AIFB 0,34 2
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam DMK 1,76 2
Indian Union Muslim League IUML 0,3 2
Jammu & Kashmir National Conference NC 0,26 2
Kerala Congress KC 0,18 1
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MGP 0,06 1
Manipur Peoples Party MPP 0,06 0
Muslim League (Opposition) ML(O) 0,17 0
Peasants and Workers Party of India PWPI 0,55 5
Revolutionary Socialist Party RSP 0,45 4
Shiromani Akali Dal SAD 1,26 9
United Democratic Front UDF 0,07 1
Vishal Haryana VH 0,1 1
Jharkhand Party JP 0,07 1
Republican Party of India (Khobragade) RPI(K) 0,51 2
Independents - 5,5 9
Nominated Anglo-Indians - - 2

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ M.R. Masani, "India's Second Revolution," Asian Affairs (1977) 5#1 pp 19-38.
  3. ^ "General Election of India 1977, 6th Lok Sabha" (PDF). Election Commission of India. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
  4. ^ D.N. Dhanagare, "Sixth Lok Sabha Election in Uttar Pradesh - 1977: The End of the Congress Hegemony," Political Science Review (1979) 18#1 pp 28-51
  5. ^ Mira Ganguly and Bangendu Ganguly, "Lok Sabha Election, 1977: The West Bengal Scene," Political Science Review (1979) 18#3 pp 28-53
  6. ^

Further reading