How India was built by its Houses

From the first Lok Sabha, in which no member was over the age of 70, to the 17th, which has the highest number of women MPs

From the first Lok Sabha, in which no member was over the age of 70, to the 17th, which has the highest number of women MPs, the Lower House has an interesting history

1st Lok Sabha: Most number of independents ever to be elected to the House

Of the 489 members elected to the first Lok Sabha, 37 were independents, which remains the record. In fact, independents took more seats than the second largest party, which was the Communist Party of India with 16 seats. The Congress, led by Jawaharlal Nehru, won a majority with 364 seats.

The first Lok Sabha was constituted on 17 April 1952, and had its first sitting on 13 May. It served its full term, and was dissolved on 4 April 1957. Not a single member of Parliament (MP) was over the age of 70 years, and the first Lok Sabha passed an average of 72 Bills each year.

2nd Lok Sabha: Last time House had multi-seat constituencies

Jawaharlal Nehru returned as prime minister, with the Congress winning 371 of the 494 seats in the 1957 election. Of the total of 494 seats, 91 had two members each, while the remaining 312 had single members. These multi-seat constituencies were abolished just ahead of the next election.

The second Lok Sabha sat from 5 April 1957 to 31 March 1962. This was the House that enacted the Tenth and Twelfth Amendments to the Constitution, incorporating Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa and Daman and Diu as Union territories after a hostile stand-off with the Portuguese who held these regions.

3rd Lok Sabha: India lost two serving prime ministers—Nehru and Shastri

During its term from 2 April 1962 to 3 March 1967, Nehru died on 27 May 1964 and his successor Lal Bahadur Shastri on 11 January 1966. Indira Gandhi became prime minister on 24 January 1966. There were many stormy debates in the House over the 1962 war with China and the 1965 war with Pakistan. The China war came as a shock to Nehru as he had hoped to partner with China to counter the Cold War superpowers. Defence minister V.K. Krishna Menon resigned following criticism of his role in the war. The Chinese retained Aksai Chin and de facto borders were established over the Line of Actual Control.

4th Lok Sabha: Weaker Congress but a strong PM in the House

The number of MPs rose by 26 to reach a total of 520 in this House. Indira Gandhi served as the prime minister after the Congress won the 1967 general election (although it lost a number of seats and was considerably weakened by the deaths of Nehru and Shastri).

C. Rajagopalachari’s Swatantrata Party emerged as the second largest in the House with 44 MPs.

The House served from 4 March 1967 to 27 December 1970. Indira Gandhi dissolved the House and called fresh polls in 1971, a year before the end of its scheduled tenure, taking a gamble on strengthening her position.

5th Lok Sabha: A period of nuclear test, Emergency, JP

A war, the formation of Bangladesh and a declaration of Emergency put a lot of business before this House that sat from 15 March 1971 to 18 January 1977.

In 1974, India conducted its first nuclear tests, and Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan started a campaign against then prime minister Indira Gandhi, accusing her of corruption and misrule.

An embattled Indira Gandhi, who had a majority in the House but was slipping and wanted to retain power, extended the term of the fifth Lok Sabha by a year after imposing the Emergency and suspending all civil liberties in 1975.

6th Lok Sabha: India gets its first non-Congress govt following the Emergency

Coming out of the shadows of a 21-month Emergency imposed by former prime minister Indira Gandhi, the Sixth Lok Sabha saw India get its first non-Congress government. Morarji Desai became the prime minister on 24 March 1977 after the Janata alliance won 345 seats. He was followed by Chaudhary Charan Singh who assumed office on 28 July 1979.

The Congress managed to secure just 154 seats in the Sixth Lok Sabha, which ended its term in 1980.

Elections for the Sixth Lok Sabha were conducted for 542 seats representing 27 states and Union territories.

7th Lok Sabha: Indira Gandhi assassinated, riots break out

After a short-lived Janata government, the Seventh Lok Sabha saw the triumphant return of the Congress with 353 Lok Sabha seats in January 1980. The Janata Party won only 31 seats while Charan Singh’s Janata Party (Secular) won 41. Indira Gandhi became the prime minister once again on 14 January 1980, but was assassinated on 31 October 1984. Later the same day, her son Rajiv Gandhi was appointed prime minister. Following Indira’s assassination, thousands of Sikhs were killed in communal violence in the capital.

The average age of the 7th Lok Sabha was 46.2 years.

8th Lok Sabha: Congress returns with resounding majority, regional parties rise

Though the Congress held an astounding 426 seats in the Eighth Lok Sabha, riding on a sympathy wave following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the term also marked the emergence of strong regional parties in national-level politics. The Telugu Desam Party was the second largest party in the House with 30 seats, and was also the first regional party to form and lead the opposition. The newly minted Bharatiya Janata Party had two seats. Rajiv Gandhi served as the sixth prime minister, holding the office from 1984 to 1989. His term was marred by the Bofors scandal, rising terrorism in Punjab and the civil war in Sri Lanka.

9th Lok Sabha: Govt implements Mandal Commission’s recommendations

Running from 2 December 1989 to 13 March 1991, this House had V.P. Singh as prime minister with the support of BJP and Communist Party of India (Marxist). Singh declared his government’s intent to implement the Mandal Commission’s recommendations for reserving a fixed quota of jobs in the public sector for Other Backward Classes, leading to violent protests by students across the country. The BJP withdrew its support to the government following the arrest of L.K. Advani at Samastipur, and Chandra Shekhar became prime minister, holding office from 10 November 1990 to 21 June 1991, with outside support from the Congress.

10th Lok Sabha: Congress forms govt with help of Left parties

Elections to the Tenth Lok Sabha were held in 1991, and the Congress emerged as the largest party, riding on a sympathy wave following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.

Falling short of the majority with 244 seats, the Congress formed government with the help of the Left parties.

P.V. Narasimha Rao became the prime minister—the only non-Gandhi then from the Congress party to hold the post after Shastri. Rao had a full term from 21 June 1991 to 16 May 1996.

This was the House that presided over the reforms and liberalization of the economy.

11th Lok Sabha: Country sees three prime ministers in a span of two years

The result of the 1996 election was a hung Parliament, and the country had three prime ministers in two years before the House was dissolved and polls called again.

BJP, which was the single largest party with 161 seats, formed government on 16 May 1996 but PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was unable to prove majority after 13 days in power. The United Front, comprising Janata Dal, SP, DMK, TDP and other parties, formed the government with outside support from the Congress. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral were PMs. The House was dissolved on 28 November 1997 after the Congress withdrew support to the government

12th Lok Sabha: Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK plays kingmaker

This was the third consecutive House that did not serve a full term or provide a stable government.

Its members served about 13 months from 10 March 1998 to 26 April 1999, with the BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee as prime minister and his party having 182 MPs.

The Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government collapsed after the AIADMK, led by former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, with 18 MPs withdrew support to the government and pulled out of the alliance. Parliament conducted a vote of confidence, which the government lost by one vote.

13th Lok Sabha: Vajpayee-led NDA forms govt with majority

The House held its full term from 10 October 1999 to 6 February 2004 with the NDA having a majority of 270 seats. Vajpayee was prime minister once again and the House debated a number of issues—from the Kargil War with Pakistan and the decline of the rupee to peace talks with Pakistan and the stand-off over the hijacking of IC 814. The Pokhran nuclear tests were conducted in 1998, and terrorists attacked Parliament in 2001. However, the Lok Sabha’s performance in terms of business conducted and time lost to disruptions was poor. Experts say the decline in overall performance of the Lok Sabha began with this House.

14th Lok Sabha: Frequent disruptions mar working of the House

The 14th Lok Sabha was convened from 17 May 2004 to 18 May 2009, and Manmohan Singh became prime minister. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance had a majority in the House, and the Congress returned to power after eight years—then its longest period of being out of power since Independence.

The lowest number of Bills, just 18, was passed by Parliament in 2004. The 14th Lok Sabha was disrupted by a sting operation in 2005 that allegedly caught 10 Lok Sabha MPs (and one Rajya Sabha MP) accepting cash to raise questions in Parliament. All 10 members, mostly from the BJP and BSP, were expelled.

15th Lok Sabha: Frequent disruptions mar working of the House

The Congress-led UPA returned to lead the government after the 2009 general election. Manmohan Singh continued as PM. The House was disrupted frequently over the allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks, FDI in retail, a demand for a separate state of Telangana and allegations of corruption in the organization of the Commonwealth Games.

This Lok Sabha passed an average of 40 bills a year, which compares poorly with the previous Lok Sabhas. Significant laws passed by this House include the Right to Education, Land Acquisition, Food Security, Companies, and Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bills.

16th Lok Sabha: BJP becomes first non-Congress party to win clear majority

The 16th Lok Sabha began on 26 May 2014, with Narendra Modi as prime minister. The BJP had an absolute majority with 282 seats and formed the government with its allies of the NDA. The Congress had just 44 seats, its lowest ever tally.

The House passed 133 bills and promulgated 45 ordinances. The 16th Lok Sabha worked for 1,615 hours, 20% more than the previous House, but 40% lower than the average of all full-term Lok Sabhas (2,689 hours). The 16th Lok Sabha had 62 women MPs, the highest until the 17th House, and members clocked an average of 80% attendance.


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