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1996 Indian general election

← 1991 27 April, 2 May and 7 May 1996 1998 →

543 of the 545 seats in the Lok Sabha
272 seats needed for a majority
Turnout57.94% (Increase 1.21pp)
  First party Second party
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (crop 2).jpg
P. V. Narasimha Rao.JPG
Leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee P. V. Narasimha Rao
Party BJP INC(I)
Last election 20.07%, 120 seats 36.40%, 244 seats
Seats won 161 140
Seat change Increase 41 Decrease 92
Popular vote 67,950,851 96,455,493
Percentage 20.29% 28.80%
Swing Increase 0.18pp Decrease 7.46pp

  Third party Fourth party
H. D. Deve Gowda BNC.jpg
Leader H. D. Deve Gowda Harkishan Singh Surjeet
Party JD CPI(M)
Alliance UF UF
Last election 11.73%, 59 seats 6.16%, 35 seats
Seats won 46 32
Seat change Decrease 13 Decrease 3
Popular vote 27,070,340 20,496,810
Percentage 8.08% 6.12%
Swing Decrease 3.76pp Decrease 0.04pp

Results by constituency

Prime Minister before election

P. V. Narasimha Rao

Prime Minister after election

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

General elections were held in India on 27 April, 2 May and 7 May 1996 to elect the members of the eleventh Lok Sabha. The elections resulted in a hung parliament with no single party having a clear majority. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won the most seats, formed a short-lived government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, two weeks later the United Front coalition was able to secure a parliamentary majority and H. D. Deve Gowda of Janata Dal became Prime Minister. In 1997 Inder Kumar Gujral, also from the United Front, succeeded Gowda as Prime Minister. Due to the instability, early elections were held in 1998. The elections were the first since 1980 in which every states' seats were elected in a single election period.


The Indian National Congress (Indira) government of Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao came into the election on the back of several government scandals like the 1992 Indian stock market scam and accusations of mismanagement. Seven cabinet members had resigned during the previous term, and Rao himself faced charges of corruption. The Congress(I) more generally had been plagued in recent years by a series of splits, conflicts and factional disputes that had seen various key regional parties and figures abandon the party. In particular, the high-profile May 1995 defection of Arjun Singh and Narayan Datt Tiwari to form the new All India Indira Congress (Tiwari) party underscored the internal divisions within the Congress (Indira).

The government was further weakened by a series of major scandals breaking less than 12 months from the election. In July 1995 it was found a former Congress(I) youth leader had murdered his wife and tried to destroy the evidence by stuffing her corpse into a tandoor (clay oven). In August 1995 the Vohra Report was finally released to the parliament, decrying that a politician-criminal nexus was "virtually running a parallel government, pushing the state apparatus into irrelevance".[1] Government credibility fell further still when in late 1995 violence significantly worsened in the Kashmir region, and sporadic fighting and ethnic tensions boiled over in Punjab province. As a result of the scandals, the Rao government went into the 1996 election at a low of ebb of public support.[2]


The elections triggered a significant realignment of political forces in Indians, with all-India parties attempting to construct widespread regional coalitions with minor parties in order to secure a central majority. Such political negotiations were to become an increasingly necessary process in Indian politics over the next two decades as the dominance of the INC(I) declined and smaller, ethnic and regional parties took its place. The Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Lal Krishna Advani attempted to add several regional coalition partners - most notably the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Bahujan Samaj Party, but was ultimately unsuccessful in overcoming ideological differences. Yet it did join with several strong regional partners - Shiv Sena, Haryana Vikas Party, and the Samata Party. The Congress(I) party attempted to form regional allies as well, most notably with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.[3][4]

The so-called "Third Force" during the 1996 elections was the National Front. After its collapse in 1990, the coalition had chopped and changed before reuniting in the run up to the 1996 election. Three main parties grouped back together in September 1995 in hopes of presenting a viable political choice - the Communist parties like the Communist Party of India & Communist Party of India (Marxist), Janata Dal and the Telugu Desam Party. It attempted to build a wider coalition of regional partners and state parties, however negotiations repeatedly broke down, and no consensus could be arrived at on a 'common minimum program' - a platform of issues on which all parties could agree upon. A split in the Uttar Pradesh government in December 1995 divided the front further. Finally, lacking a strong leader or common set of principles, the main three parties joined with the Samajwadi Party in a common goal of simply denying power to either the Congress(I) or BJP. Thus a characteristic of the 1996 elections was a large number of strong regional and state parties declined to form an alliance with any of the three major contenders for government.[5]

In January only a few months before the election, a major scandal erupted: the Jain hawala scandal. Jain, an industrialist in the steel and power sectors, was revealed to have given US$33 million in bribes to politicians from nearly all major parties in return for favours. Further shocking the public, Jain had also channelled money to Kashmiri Muslim militants. In the first wave of names implicated were three Rao cabinet members, Arjun Singh from the breakaway Congress (T) party, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani, Sharad Yadav (leader of the Janata Dal parliamentary party), and former Congress(I) Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Almost 115 names would eventually be released, and numerous candidates and ministers were forced to resign in the aftermath. Most significantly was the resignation of L.K. Advani as Member of Parliament, though he continued to lead the election campaigning as the BJP's president.[6]

The BJP ran a campaign centred around a four-point plan which aimed for probity of public life, self-reliance in the economy, social harmony and greater security. It strongly advocated an economic plan which would significantly scale back government intervention and encourage capital investment and creation. In the backdrop of the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid, BJP stressed on the role of Hindutva in its vision for India, creating a more Hindu-orientated state by removing the provisions of secularism & making Hinduism the country's state religion, implementing a nationwide ban on cow slaughter, abolishing personal laws of non-Hindus by introducing a uniform civil code and removing the special status of Kashmir alongside construction of the Ram-mandir as its main agenda. The Congress(I) Party attempted to campaign on its foreign policy record, its handling of the numerous natural and ethnic crises that had emerged over the past five years, and on better concessions for ethnic minorities and empowering the state governments. It additionally stressed the economic gains already made by the government due to its liberalization policies post 1992. However it drew flak for promising re-construction of the demolished mosque at the disputed site of Ayodhya in its electoral manifesto, leading the BJP to accuse the Congress (Indira) of indulging in Muslim appeasement & fostering Hinduphobia. The Janata Dal and the National Front campaigned on maintaining a strong public sector though with some commitment to deregulation and anti-corruption measures while committing to implement the Mandal Commission report. It also pushed other more populist measures as well, such as more state-run infrastructure projects, subsidised fertilizer, and increased education investment.[7]


For a more comprehensive list, see Results of the 1996 Indian general election.

The BJP capitalised on the communal polarisation that followed the demolition of Babri Masjid to win 161 Lok Sabha seats, making it the largest party in parliament. L.K. Advani, whose aggressive campaigning as BJP president is widely credited with these results.[8] The election delivered an unclear mandate and resulted in a hung parliament. Although Congress continued to remain the single largest party in terms of voteshare, it was for the first time since the country's first general elections that the Congress' voteshare fell below 30% on a national scale. The Congress also for the first time in its existence, won fewer than 150 seats in a general election, surpassing the record of 154 seats in the 1977 general elections. Hence the result was considered as the worst result of the Congress party in its history to that date, with commentators blaming the poor result on the personal unpopularity of Prime Minister Rao and the numerous internal divisions that had dogged the party alongside the religious polarisation fueled by the BJP under the Ayodhya dispute. Congress(I) was almost wiped out in its traditional strongholds of Uttar Pradesh & Bihar with many stalwarts like Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav, Jagannath Mishra, Satyendra Narayan Sinha suffered electoral setbacks inflicted by both Janata Dal & BJP.[9] The BJP became the largest party within the Lok Sabha, a first for a non-Congress party, although it secured neither a significant increase in the popular vote or enough seats to secure a parliamentary majority.[10]

Indian National Congress (Indira)96,455,49328.80140
Bharatiya Janata Party67,950,85120.29161
Janata Dal27,070,3408.0846
Communist Party of India (Marxist)20,496,8106.1232
Bahujan Samaj Party13,453,2354.0211
Samajwadi Party10,989,2413.2817
Telugu Desam Party9,931,8262.9716
Tamil Maanila Congress7,339,9822.1920
Samata Party7,256,0862.178
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam7,151,3812.1417
Communist Party of India6,582,2631.9712
Shiv Sena4,989,9941.4915
All India Indira Congress (Tiwari)4,903,0701.464
NTR Telugu Desam Party (Lakshmi Parvathi)3,249,2670.970
Asom Gana Parishad2,560,5060.765
Shiromani Akali Dal2,534,9790.768
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam2,130,2860.640
Revolutionary Socialist Party2,105,4690.635
Republican Party of India1,454,3630.430
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha1,287,0720.381
All India Forward Bloc1,279,4920.383
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam1,235,8120.370
Haryana Vikas Party1,156,3220.353
Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation808,0650.240
Indian Union Muslim League757,3160.232
Janata Party631,0210.190
Karnataka Congress Party581,8680.171
Pattali Makkal Katchi571,9100.170
Peasants and Workers Party of India437,8050.130
Indian Congress (Socialist)404,2610.120
Kerala Congress (M)382,3190.111
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen340,0700.101
Shiromani Akali Dal (Simranjit Singh Mann)339,5200.100
Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress337,5390.101
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh329,6950.100
Kerala Congress320,5390.100
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Mardi)299,0550.090
United Minorities Front, Assam244,5710.070
Apna Dal222,6690.070
Autonomous State Demand Committee180,1120.051
Forward Bloc (Socialist)172,6850.050
Gujarat Adijati Vikash Paksh166,0030.050
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party129,2200.041
Sikkim Democratic Front124,2180.041
Federal Party of Manipur120,5570.040
Marxist Co-ordination Committee114,4060.030
Krantikari Samajwadi Manch113,9750.030
Mizo National Front111,7100.030
United Goans Democratic Party109,3460.031
Jharkhand Party (Naren)102,1110.030
Jammu & Kashmir Panthers Party99,5990.030
Savarn Samaj Party84,7250.030
Jharkhand Party78,9070.020
Majlis Bachao Tahreek78,3350.020
Nag Vidarbha Andolan Samiti66,0650.020
Peoples Democratic Party65,6410.020
Amra Bangali65,5950.020
Mahabharat People's Party64,2660.020
Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha60,3610.020
Jharkhand People's Party58,1320.020
Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar)52,5850.020
Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti52,3000.020
Akhil Bharatiya Jan Sangh49,9780.010
Satya Marg Party48,0560.010
Sikkim Sangram Parishad42,1750.010
Lok Hit Party37,1270.010
United Tribal Nationalist Liberation Front34,8030.010
Pavitra Hindustan Kaazhagam34,1470.010
Marxist Communist Party of India (S.S. Srivastava)33,9000.010
Kannada Chalevali Vatal Paksha31,1360.010
Akhil Bharatiya Bhrastachar Normoolan Sena30,9700.010
Hul Jharkhand Party30,2200.010
Bhoomijotak Samooh29,8740.010
Proutist Sarva Samaj Samiti26,4030.010
Akhil Bhartiya Loktantra Party25,1310.010
Republican Party of India (Athawale)22,6400.010
Uttar Pradesh Republican Party22,5150.010
Anaithinthiya Thamizhaga Munnetra Kazhag19,3940.010
New India Party19,1350.010
Bhatiya Krishi Udyog Sangh17,7440.010
Indian National League15,9540.000
Jan Parishad15,1120.000
Rashtriya Nayay Party13,1600.000
Shoshit Samaj Dal11,9370.000
Bahujan Kranti Dal (JAI)11,7350.000
Mahakushal Vikas Party11,1520.000
Jansatta Party10,9010.000
Bharatiya Minorities Suraksha Mahasangh10,6570.000
Republican Party of India (Democratic)10,0720.000
Gondwana Ganatantra Party9,9850.000
Pragtisheel Manav Samaj Party9,9740.000
Akhil Bharatiya Berozgaar Party9,8130.000
Janhit Morcha9,4040.000
Hindustan Janata Party9,2080.000
Rashtriya Samajwadi Party 'pragatisheel'8,7790.000
Lok Party8,7580.000
Pachim Banga Rajya Muslim League8,6240.000
Republican Party of India (Khobragade)8,4910.000
Akhil Bhartiya Janata Vikas Party7,7260.000
Arya Sabha7,5630.000
Bharatiya Jan Sabha7,3380.000
Republican Presidium Party of India7,2980.000
Bahujan Kranti Dal6,9680.000
Political Party of National Management Service6,6670.000
Rashtriya Surajya Parishad6,0000.000
Samajwadi Janata Party (Maharashtra)5,7840.000
Maharashtra Pradesh Krantikari Party5,7650.000
Akhil Bartiya Manav Seva Dal5,6730.000
National Republican Party5,2710.000
Indian Democratic Party5,0840.000
Bharatiya Lok Tantrik Mazdoor Dal5,0750.000
Surajya Party4,9170.000
Hindu Mahasabha4,7200.000
Rashtriya Aikta Manch4,5740.000
National Democratic Peoples Front4,4620.000
Bolshevik Party of India4,3450.000
Bharatiya Lok Panchayat4,0180.000
Bharatiya Rashtriya Party3,7240.000
Rashtriya Kisan Party3,6350.000
Akhil Bharatiya Mahasand Sarvahara Krantikari Party3,5520.000
Bharatiya Labour Party3,5500.000
Rashtriya Unnatsheel Das3,4760.000
Rashtriya Samdarshi Party3,3600.000
Vijeta Party3,3280.000
Satyayug Party3,3190.000
Bharatiya Rashtriya Morcha3,1810.000
Rashtriya Mazdoor Ekta Party3,1760.000
Marxist Engelist Leninist Proletariat Health Commune3,1550.000
Akhil Bharatiya Rashtriya Azad Hind Party3,1520.000
Bahujan Samaj Party (Raj Bahadur)3,1140.000
Socialist Party (Lohia)3,0060.000
Kannada Paksha2,8830.000
Bharatiya Manav Raksha Dal2,7960.000
Akhil Bharatiya Dalit Utthan Party2,6540.000
Akhil Bharatiya Desh Bhakt Morcha2,2950.000
Indian Secular Congress2,1360.000
Bira Oriya Party2,0880.000
Republican Party of India (Sivaraj)2,0810.000
Bharathiya Nethaji Party2,0240.000
Bharatiya Rajiv Congress1,9670.000
Bharatiya Jantantrik Parishad1,8670.000
Ekta Samaj Party1,8520.000
Congress Of People1,8500.000
Revolutionary Communist Party Of India (Rasik Bhatt)1,8030.000
Bhartiya Ekta Party1,8010.000
Shoshit Samaj Party1,6840.000
Samajwadi Dal1,6370.000
Akhil Bharatiya Shivsena Rashtrawadi1,4770.000
Bharatiya Kranti Sena1,4390.000
Indian Democratic People's Party1,4380.000
Ekta Krandi Dal U.P.1,4090.000
Indian Bahujan Samajwadi Party1,3760.000
Sarvadharam Party (Madhya Pradesh)1,3270.000
People's Democratic League of India1,2760.000
Punjab Vikas Party (Punjab)1,1850.000
Desh Bhakt Party1,1480.000
Sabjan Party1,1200.000
Akhil Bharatiya Lok Tantrik Alp-Sankhyak Jan Morcha1,1110.000
Kisan Vyawasayee Mazdoor Party1,0560.000
Pratap Shiv Sena1,0490.000
Adarsh Lok Dal1,0370.000
Gareebjan Samaj Party9620.000
Akhil Bharatiya Dharmnirpeksh Dal8940.000
All India Azad Hind Mazdur & Jan Kalyan Party8830.000
Bahujan Loktantrik Party8570.000
Socialist Party (Ramakant Pandey)8480.000
Manav Sewa Sangh8410.000
Bharatiya Samajwadi Vikas Party8050.000
Akhil Bhartiya Rajarya Sabha7870.000
Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)7860.000
Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad7240.000
Ambedkar Kranti Dal6670.000
Bhartiya Jan Kisan Party6330.000
Mahabharath Mahajan Sabha5720.000
Bharatiya Samaj Sangathan Morcha5350.000
Rashtriya Bharat Nav Nirman Sangathan5280.000
Samajik Kranti Dal5220.000
Rashtriya Krantikari Dal5200.000
Bharat Jan Party5050.000
Hind National Party4960.000
Sachet Bharat Party4700.000
Bhartiya Azad Party4570.000
Bhrishtachar Virodhi Dal4340.000
Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad (Prem Ballabh Vyas)4280.000
Tamil Nadu Hindu Vellalar Youth Kazhagam4220.000
Pragati Sheel Party4070.000
Socialist League of India3840.000
United Indian Democratic Council3740.000
Rashtriya Samaj Sevak Dal3480.000
Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Morcha3450.000
Hindu Praja Party3320.000
Janata Kranti Congress3240.000
Mukt Bharat2950.000
Jan Swarajya Party2780.000
Gujarat Janta Parishad2660.000
Bharat Pensioner's Front2310.000
Bharatiya Parivartan Morcha2310.000
All India Democratic People Federation1950.000
Akhil Bharatiya Jagrook Nagrik Dal1760.000
Federation of Sabhas1420.000
Hind Kisan Mazdoor Party1310.000
Poorvanchal Rashtriya Congress1240.000
Kranti Dal1120.000
Jan Ekata Morcha940.000
Bharatiya Sarvkalyan Krantidal890.000
Manav Samaj Party740.000
Labour Party of India (V.V. Prasad)680.000
Bharatiya Rashtrawadi Dal530.000
Nominated Anglo-Indians2
Valid votes334,873,28697.54
Invalid/blank votes8,434,8042.46
Total votes343,308,090100.00
Registered voters/turnout592,572,28857.94
Source: ECI


Following Westminster custom, Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma invited Atal Bihari Vajpayee as leader of the BJP to form a government. Sworn in on 15 May, the new Prime Minister was given two weeks to prove majority support in parliament. In the weeks leading up to the first confidence vote on 31 May, the BJP attempted to build a coalition by moderating positions to garner support from regional and Muslim parties, however sectarian issues and fears of certain nationalist policies of the BJP hampered efforts. On 28 May, Vajpayee conceded that he could not arrange support from more than 200 of the 545 members of parliament, and thus resigned rather than face the confidence vote, ending his 13-day government.[11]

The second largest party, the Indian National Congress (Indira), also declined to form a government. After Janata Dal leader V. P. Singh refused to become Prime Minister for a second time, CPI(M) leader & incumbent West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu was approached by the National Front to be its prime ministerial face, but the party politburo refused to endorse it (a decision which Basu later criticised as a "historic blunder") in order to affirm it's commitment towards establishing dictatorship of the proletariat. Basu put forward the name of Janata Dal leader & incumbent Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Deve Gowda as the candidate for the Prime Minister post. Janata Dal and a bloc of smaller parties thus formed the United Front government,[10] with outside support from INC(I). Gowda resigned on 21 April 1997 due to withdrawal of support by the Indian National Congress [a] to pave way for I. K. Gujral, who maintained good relations with the Congress.

However the Fodder Scam resulted in many United Front members demanding the resignation of Lalu Prasad Yadav, an alliance partner and the then Chief Minister of Bihar. Yadav retaliated by breaking away from Janata Dal and forming Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on 3 July 1997. Out of 45 Janata Dal members of parliament, 17 left the party and supported Yadav. However, the new party continued to support the United Front and Gujral's government was saved from immediate danger. Gujral resigned 11 months later when INC withdrew support from the government over Gujral's refusal to expel DMK from the government, whose leader M. Karunanidhi was implicated in assisting Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and the country went back to the polls in 1998.


  1. ^ After 1996, the Indian National Congress (Indira) dropped the suffix 'Indira' from its name, thereby becoming known as Indian National Congress

See also


  1. ^ Vohra, N (October 1993). "Chapter 3.4, pp.3". The Vohra Committee Report.
  2. ^ Vohra, Ranbir (2001). The Making of India. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 282–284. ISBN 978-0-7656-0712-6.
  3. ^ Heath, Oliver (2006). "Anatomy of the BJP's Rise to Power: Social, Regional and Political Expansion in 1990s". In Zoya Hasan (ed.). Parties and Party Politics in India. Oxford India Paperbacks. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-566833-9.
  4. ^ Wallace, Paul; Ramashray Roy (2003). India's 1999 Elections and 20th Century Politics. Sage. ISBN 978-0-7619-9598-2.
  5. ^ Pai, Sudha (1996). "Transformation of the Indian Party System: The 1996 Lok Sabha Elections". Asian Survey. 36 (12). University of California Press: 1177–1179. doi:10.2307/2645573. JSTOR 2645573.
  6. ^ Vohra, Ranbir (2001). The Making of India. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 288–290. ISBN 978-0-7656-0712-6.
  7. ^ Vohra, Ranbir (2001). The Making of India. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 290–293. ISBN 978-0-7656-0712-6.
  8. ^ Guha, Ramachandra (2007), India after Gandhi: the history of the world's largest democracy, India: Picador, p. 633, ISBN 978-0-330-39610-3
  9. ^ Elections 1996: 11th Lok Sabha elections saw eclipse of the National Constituency syndrome Archived 18 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine India Today, 31 May 1996
  10. ^ a b Hardgrave, Robert (1996). "1996 Indian Parliamentary Elections: What Happened? What Next?". University of Texas. Archived from the original on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  11. ^ "India's prime minister resigns after 13 days". CNN. 28 May 1996. Archived from the original on 25 August 2004. Retrieved 12 December 2008.