United Front
ChairpersonN. Chandrababu Naidu
Split fromNational Front
HeadquartersAndhra Pradesh Bhavan, New Delhi

The United Front was a coalition government of 13 political parties formed in India after the 1996 general elections.[1] It formed two governments in India between 1996 and 1998. During its tenure, the government was led by two prime ministers belonging to the Janata DalH. D. Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral. N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party served as the convener of United Front.[2][3] The United Front was headquartered at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in New Delhi.[4]


The Indian general election in 1996 returned a fractured verdict. With the Bharatiya Janata Party emerging as the largest party with 161 of 543 seats, it was invited first to form a government. It accepted the offer, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as the prime minister. However, he was unable to get a majority in parliament, and the government dissolved 13 days later.[5] At a meeting of all the other parties, the Indian National Congress, with a substantial 140 seats, declined to head the government and agreed to extend outside support to the coalition,[6] whereas the Communist Party of India (Marxist) agreed to join the coalition with the Janata Dal at its head,[7] named the United Front.

With the approval of the Congress and CPI(M), the sitting chief minister of Karnataka, H. D. Deve Gowda, was asked to head the coalition as Prime Minister after V. P. Singh and Jyoti Basu declined.[8][9] His term was from June 1, 1996 to April 21, 1997.[10] The Congress revoked its support for Gowda amidst discontent over communication between the coalition and the Congress. It compromised to support a new government under I. K. Gujral, who served as the prime minister from April 21, 1997 to March 19, 1998. Following the collapse of his government, fresh elections were called,[11] and the United Front lost power.[12] Later, when N. Chandrababu Naidu stepped down as convener of the United Front to extend outside support to the National Democratic Alliance, the coalition government collapsed.[13]

Electoral performance

Year Legislature Coalition leader Seats won Change in seats Percentage
of votes
Vote swing Outcome Ref.
1996 11th Lok Sabha N. Chandrababu Naidu
305 / 543
Steady 56.31% Steady Government [14]
1998 12th Lok Sabha
88 / 543
Decrease 217 20.98% Decrease 35.33% Opposition [15]

List of prime ministers

Further information: List of prime ministers of India

No. Portrait Name Term in office Lok Sabha Cabinet Constituency Party
Start End Tenure
1 H. D. Deve Gowda 1 June 1996 21 April 1997 324 days 11th Deve Gowda Rajya Sabha
Janata Dal  
2 Inder Kumar Gujral 21 April 1997 19 March 1998 332 days Gujral Rajya Sabha

Coalition members

Party 1996
(Post-poll alliance)
(Pre-poll alliance)
Seat Change
Internal support
Asom Gana Parishad 5 0 Decrease 5
Communist Party of India 12 9 Decrease 3
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 32 32 Steady
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 17 6 Decrease 11
Janata Dal 46 6 Decrease 40
Samajwadi Party 17 20 Increase 3
Tamil Maanila Congress 20 3 Decrease 17
Telugu Desam Party 16 12 Decrease 4
External support
Indian National Congress 140
Total 305 88 Decrease 217


  1. ^ M. L. Ahuja (1998). Electoral politics and general elections in India, 1952–1998. Mittal Publications. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-81-7099-711-5. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  2. ^ "Chandrababu Naidu: Coalitions have delivered clear policies". The Indian Express. 2018-10-28. Retrieved 2022-11-12.
  3. ^ Service, Indo-Asian News (2022-04-20). "Andhra Pradesh: Naidu turns 72, gears up for another poll battle". The Siasat Daily. Retrieved 2022-11-12.
  4. ^ "Routed in many of its strongholds, Third Force loses its pan-Indian identity". India Today. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  5. ^ "When Atal Bihari Vajpayee Became The Prime Minister For 13 Days And Then 13 Months". India.com. 2018-08-16. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  6. ^ "Mamata Banerjee Can Say No UPA Anymore but Her National Goals are Tied to Congress' Future". News18. 2021-12-03. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  7. ^ Kumar, Arvind (2022-08-19). "What Left parties' decision to not join Bihar alliance means for India's Dalits, women, MBCs". ThePrint. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  8. ^ "Why Jyoti Basu could not be PM". Times of India Blog. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  9. ^ Mukul, Akshaya. "Historic blunder: How hardliners denied Basu the chance to be PM". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  10. ^ "25 years ago HD Deve Gowda took oath as PM; JDS highlights achievements". www.business-standard.com. Press Trust of India. 2021-06-01. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  11. ^ "Elections '98: United Front confident of good performance in coming polls". India Today. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  12. ^ "Third Front | Alternative political combination and its challenges". Moneycontrol. 11 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-11-12.
  13. ^ "Chandrababu Naidu 2.0: Can he recreate 1996 in 2019 in the Capital?". Hindustan Times. 2018-11-10. Retrieved 2022-12-26.
  14. ^ Election Commission 1996.
  15. ^ Election Commission 1998.