India's Election and Political Progress

January 31, 1962

Report Outline
Political Personalities and Parties
Basic Forces and Trends in India
Foreign Affairs in the Election

Political Personalities and Parties

Approach of India's Third General Election

More than 150 million voters are expected to go to the polls in India between Feb. 16 and Feb. 25 to cast ballots in the third general election held in that country since it gained independence after World War II. Final results of what will be the largest free election ever held anywhere will not be known until around March 4. However, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Congress Party of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru will emerge victorious, though possibly with a reduced majority in the lower house of Parliament. Members not only of that body but also of most of the Indian state legislatures are to be chosen by the people voting in the coming election.

The first Indian general election, in 1952, gave the electorate some understanding of the value of the franchise. There was a turnout of 106 million voters in the four months required for the polling. The second general election, in 1957, brought out 12½ million voters and acquainted them with ways in which to exercise the franchise with discrimination. In the 1962 election, Indian democracy is being challenged by a variety of divisive issues. All of Prime Minister Nehru's talents will be needed to deal with forces that threaten to undermine the unity of the nation.

Although Nehru's standing in his own constituency of Allahbad seems secure, many educated Indians are becoming disillusioned with the Congress Party. But the four principal opposition parties—Communist, Praja Socialist, Hindu Jan Sangh, and the newly formed Freedom Party—have failed to offer an attractive alternative. A strong opposition party is considered essential to maintenance of a vigorous party system in India, if not to the preservation of democracy. For the West, the vitality of Indian democracy is one of the most important factors in the balance of forces competing for Asian supremacy today.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Nov. 03, 1965  Kashmir Question
Oct. 24, 1962  India-China Border War
Jan. 31, 1962  India's Election and Political Progress
Oct. 21, 1959  India, China, Tibet
Apr. 29, 1959  India's Hard Years
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Jun. 10, 1954  Neutral India
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