1991 Indian general election

← 1989 20 May, 12 June and 15 June 1991[1]
19 February 1992 (Punjab)
1996 →

534 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha
268 seats needed for a majority
Turnout56.73% (Decrease 5.22pp)
  First party Second party
P. V. Narasimha Rao.JPG
Lal Krishna Advani 2009.jpg
Leader P. V. Narasimha Rao L.K. Advani
Party INC(I) BJP
Last election 39.53%, 197 seats 11.36%, 85 seats
Seats won 244 120
Seat change Increase 47 Increase 35
Popular vote 101,285,692 55,843,074
Percentage 36.40% 20.07%
Swing Decrease 3.13 pp Increase 8.71 pp

  Third party Fourth party
V. P. Singh (cropped).jpg
E. M. S. Namboodiripad.jpg
Leader V.P. Singh E. M. S. Namboodiripad
Party JD CPI(M)
Last election 17.79%, 143 seats 6.55%, 33 seats
Seats won 59 35
Seat change Decrease 84 Increase 2
Popular vote 32,628,400 16,954,797
Percentage 11.73% 6.16%
Swing Decrease 6.06 pp Decrease 0.39 pp

Results by constituency

Prime Minister before election

Chandra Shekhar

Prime Minister after election

P. V. Narasimha Rao

General elections were held in India on 20 May, 12 June and 15 June 1991 to elect the members of the 10th Lok Sabha, although they were delayed until 19 February 1992 in Punjab.

No party could muster a majority in the Lok Sabha, resulting in the Indian National Congress (Indira) forming a minority government under new Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao with the support of other parties.The government survived 28 July 1993 no confidence vote in controversial circumstances by engineering defections from the Janata Dal and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.[2][3]

Elections were not held for the six seats allocated to Jammu and Kashmir, nor for two seats in Bihar and one in Uttar Pradesh. Voter turnout was 57%, the lowest to date in an Indian general election.[4]


The 1991 elections were held as the previous Lok Sabha, with Chandra Sekhar at its helm had been dissolved just 16 months after government formation. Over 500 million eligible voters were once again given the chance to elect their government.[5] The elections were held in a polarised environment and are also referred to as the 'Mandal-Mandir' elections after the two most important poll issues, the Mandal Commission fallout and the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.

Mandal-Mandir Issue

While the Mandal Commission report implemented by the VP Singh government gave 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in government jobs, it led to widespread violence and protests across the country with many students in and around Delhi even setting themselves on fire. Mandir represented the hallmark of this election, where there was a debate over the disputed Babri Masjid structure at Ayodhya, which the Bharatiya Janata Party was using as its major election manifesto.

The Mandir issue led to numerous riots in many parts of the country and the electorate was polarised on caste and religious lines. With the National Front falling apart, the Congress(I) managed to make the most of the polarisation, by getting the most seats and forming a minority government.[6]

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination

Main article: Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

A day after the first round of polling took place on 20 May, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for Margatham Chandrasekar in Sriperembudur. The remaining election days were postponed until mid-June and voting finally took place on 12 and 15 June.

Since the assassination took place after first phase of polling in 211 of 534 constituencies and the balance constituencies went to polls after the assassination, the 1991 results varied greatly between phases.[7] Congress (I) was almost wiped out in the first phase, and rode a massive sympathy wave to sweep the second phase.[5] The end result was a Congress(I)-led minority government supported by the Janata Dal led by P. V. Narasimha Rao, who had previously announced his retirement from politics. While Rao had not contested in the election, he contested in a by-election in Nandyal which he won by a record five lakh votes.

Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab

76 to 126 people were shot dead during campaign on 17 June 1991 in two attacks by gunmen in Punjab, an area racked by separatist violence. Police reports said the killings, on separate trains, were carried out by Sikh militants.[8] No elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, a total of 19 Lok Sabha seats.[9] Elections were held in Punjab on 19 February 1992,[10] where INC won 12 out of 13 seats,[11] thereby taking their tally in the Lok Sabha up from 232 to 244.


Indian National Congress (Indira)99,799,40336.26232
Bharatiya Janata Party55,345,07520.11120
Janata Dal32,589,18011.8459
Communist Party of India (Marxist)16,954,7976.1635
Janata Party9,267,0963.375
Telugu Desam Party8,223,2712.9913
Communist Party of India6,851,1142.4914
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam5,741,9102.090
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam4,470,5421.6211
Bahujan Samaj Party4,420,7191.612
Shiv Sena2,208,7120.804
Revolutionary Socialist Party1,749,7300.644
Asom Gana Parishad1,489,8980.541
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha1,481,9000.546
Janata Dal (Gujarat)1,399,7020.511
Pattali Makkal Katchi1,283,0650.470
All India Forward Bloc1,145,0150.423
Indian Congress (Socialist) – Sarat Chandra Sinha982,9540.361
Indian Union Muslim League845,4180.312
Indian Peoples Front644,8910.230
Natun Asom Gana Parishad494,6280.180
Karnataka Rajya Ryota Sangha490,2750.180
Doordarshi Party466,8690.170
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen456,9000.171
Kerala Congress (M)384,2550.141
Jharkhand Party350,6990.130
Haryana Vikas Party331,7940.121
Nagaland People's Council328,0150.121
Bharatiya Republican Paksha327,9410.120
Kerala Congress319,9330.120
Peasants and Workers Party of India295,4020.110
United Minorities Front, Assam206,7370.080
Marxist Co-ordination Committee171,7670.060
United Reservation Movement Council of Assam170,3760.060
Manipur Peoples Party169,6920.061
Autonomous State Demand Committee139,7850.051
Sanjukta Loka Parishad125,7380.050
Sikkim Sangram Parishad106,2470.041
Republican Party of India (Khobragade)91,5570.030
Shiromani Akali Dal (Simaranjit Singh Mann)88,0840.030
Plain Tribals Council of Assam87,3870.030
Mizo National Front82,0190.030
Sarv Jati Janata Parishad70,3680.030
Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha67,4950.020
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party64,7520.020
Tharasu Makkal Mandram55,1650.020
Uttarakhand Kranti Dal47,3690.020
Marxist Communist Party of India (S.S. Srivastava)43,0850.020
Bharatiya Krishi Udyog Sangh42,5040.020
Jan Parishad37,7250.010
Republican Party of India36,5410.010
Amra Bangali35,1860.010
Indian Union Muslim League (IML)31,3870.010
Sampooran Kranti Das29,6470.010
Akhil Bharatiya Manav Seva Das28,5280.010
Uttar Pradesh Republican Party28,3790.010
Yuva Vikas Party28,1590.010
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist)27,7300.010
Jawan Kisan Mazdoor Party23,9290.010
Proutist Bloc of India22,7340.010
Soshit Samaj Dal19,9250.010
Akhil Bharatiya Jansangh19,2430.010
Orissa Vikas Parishad15,8930.010
Hul Jharkhand Party15,4060.010
Socialist Party of India (Lohia)12,9280.000
Akhil Bharatiya Hindustani Krantikari Samajwadi Party12,8200.000
Dalit Panthers Party11,9670.000
Bharatiya Loktantrik Mazdoor Dal10,8370.000
Akhil Bharatiya Revolutionary Samaj Dal8,8250.000
Akhil Bhartiya Shivsena-Rashtrawadi8,8100.000
Asom Jatiyatabadi Dal8,5190.000
Ambedkar Makkal Iyakkam8,2520.000
Asom Jatiya Parishad8,0470.000
Socialist Party (Ramakant Pandey)7,1040.000
Akhil Bharatiya Pichhadavarg Party6,8970.000
All India Dalit Muslim Minorities Suraksha Mahasangh5,8880.000
Vidarbha Praja Party5,5970.000
Akhil Bharatiya Gram Parishad5,5210.000
Akhil Bhartiya Dharmnirpeksh Dal5,4360.000
Hindu Swaraj Sangathan5,3250.000
Republican Presidium Party of India4,9670.000
Surajya Party4,7050.000
Sarvodaya Party4,6420.000
Janata Dal (Samajwadi)4,5480.000
Deseeya Karshaka Party4,5080.000
Gondwana Party3,6050.000
Azad Hind Fauz (Rajkiya)3,5430.000
Samdarshi Party2,9210.000
Lok Party2,8730.000
Socialist League of India2,8520.000
All India Urdu Morcha2,6550.000
Akhil Bhartiya Ramrajya Parishad (Vasudev Shastri Atul)2,5190.000
All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha2,3110.000
Pondicherry Mannila Makkal Munnani2,2590.000
Pandav Dal2,2130.000
Internationalist Democratic Party2,0780.000
Gomant Lok Party1,9830.000
Akhil Bharatiya Desh Bhakt Morcha1,7920.000
Workers Party of India1,7810.000
Nationalist Party1,7680.000
Marx Engles Leninist Commune Health Association1,6920.000
Nagaland Peoples Party1,5720.000
Adarsh Lok Dal1,5440.000
Desh Bhakt Party1,5210.000
Akhil Bharatiya Bharat Desham Party1,4660.000
Republican Party of India (Kamble)1,3000.000
Akhil Bharatiya Janhit Jagrati Party1,2450.000
Mukt Bharat1,1910.000
Rashtriya Krantikari Dal1,1250.000
Sampooran Rashtriya Sena1,0400.000
Gramma Munnetra Kazhagam1,0300.000
Navbharat Party7870.000
Labour Party of India (V.V. Prasad)6840.000
Thayaga Marumalrchi Kazhagam6650.000
Poorvanchal Rashtriya Congress6050.000
Jammu-Kashmir Panthers Party5870.000
Kannada Paksha5760.000
Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Dal5730.000
Socialist Revolutionary Party5710.000
Lokhit Morcha5320.000
Republican Party of India (Athawale)5210.000
Labour Party (Ashok Bhattacharjee)4340.000
Akhil Bharatiya Loktantra Party4080.000
Cheluva Kannad Nadu3830.000
Azad Party3720.000
Democratic Party of India3590.000
Bharatiya Backward Party3290.000
Hindu Shiv Sena (A.K. Brahmbatt)3250.000
Rashtriya Unnatsheel Das3160.000
Akhil Bharatiya Gram Parishad3140.000
Akhil Bharatiya Loktantric Alpsankhyak Janmorcha2570.000
Sr. Citizens National Party of India2500.000
Socialist Labour League2460.000
M.G.R. Munnetra Kazhagam2280.000
Mahabharat People's Party2250.000
Janata Congress Party of Bharatvarsha1940.000
Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Shakti Dal1930.000
Akhil Bharatiya Socialist Party1660.000
Kannada Desh Party1640.000
Bharatiya Dhruba Labour Party1420.000
Jai Mahakali Nigrani Samiti1380.000
Bhartiya Sangthit Nagrik Party1200.000
Vishal Bharat Party560.000
Jan Ekata Morcha340.000
Nominated Anglo-Indians2
Valid votes275,206,99097.35
Invalid/blank votes7,493,9522.65
Total votes282,700,942100.00
Registered voters/turnout498,363,80156.73
Source: ECI

Delayed elections in Punjab

Indian National Congress (Indira)1,486,28949.2712
Bahujan Samaj Party594,62819.711
Bharatiya Janata Party497,99916.510
Communist Party of India (Marxist)119,9023.980
Shiromani Akali Dal (Simaranjit Singh Mann)77,9702.580
Communist Party of India47,2261.570
Janata Dal39,2201.300
Janata Party27,9660.930
Bharatiya Krishi Udyog Sangh1,3490.040
Valid votes3,016,39795.59
Invalid/blank votes139,1264.41
Total votes3,155,523100.00
Registered voters/turnout13,169,79723.96
Source: ECI


Congress(I) was in a position to form government. The persons, mentioned in media, as probable Prime Minister, were:[12]

The Congress(I) eventually formed the government under the Prime Ministership of P. V. Narasimha Rao, who secured the outside support of the Janata Dal under controversial circumstances. After Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rao was the second Congress Prime Minister from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family and the first Congress Prime Minister to head a minority government that completed full 5-year term.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "1991 India General (10th Lok Sabha) Elections Results". www.elections.in. Archived from the original on 23 April 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  2. ^ "Narashima Rao becomes butt of 'suitcase' and 'crore' jokes among Congressmen, Opposition". India Today. 15 August 1993. Archived from the original on 16 October 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  3. ^ "JMM MP turns approver in bribery case against Rao". www.rediff.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  4. ^ "India: parliamentary elections Lok Sabha, 1991". archive.ipu.org. Archived from the original on 13 June 2021. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b "INKredible India: The story of 1991 Lok Sabha election - All you need to know". Zee News. 8 April 2019. Archived from the original on 15 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  6. ^ "History Revisited: How political parties fared in 1991 Lok Sabha election". Zee News. 6 April 2019. Archived from the original on 27 October 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  7. ^ The congress party did poorly in the pre-assassination constituencies and swept the post-assassination constituencies
  8. ^ Crossette, Barbara (17 June 1991). "Party of Gandhi Narrowly Ahead in India Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Once Upon a Poll: Tenth Lok Sabha Elections (1991)". The Indian Express. 21 March 2014. Archived from the original on 7 April 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  10. ^ Vinayak, Ramesh (3 September 2013) [February 29, 1992]. "With militant scare and Akali boycott, Punjab elections may be a damp squib". India Today. Archived from the original on 16 November 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  11. ^ "1992 India General Elections Results". www.elections.in. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d "Rao, Pawar in race for CPP-I leadership". The Indian Express. Madras. 18 June 1991. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  13. ^ "A meeting of hearts". The Indian Express. Madras. 15 June 1991. Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  14. ^ "How Shukla saved Rao govt in 1992". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 20 April 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2018.