Yes, it is absolutely correct that the seven Prime Ministers from the Indian National Congress party (including Gulzari Lal Nanda) have governed India for a little less than 54½ years (54 years and 147 days, to be exact), of which just three – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh – ruled for 42 years and 9 months.
But this does not mean that the Congress party has ruled India for just 54½ years.
Chaudhary Charan Singh was Prime Minister for 170 days in 1979-80, with the support of Indira Gandhi’s Congress party, and no major decision was taken without her OK.
Chandra Shekhar was PM for 223 days in 1990-91, once again with the support with Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress party.
In 1996, HD Deve Gowda became India’s Prime Minister with Sonia-led Congress party’s support, and governed for 323 days.
After the 11-month stint, Gowda was succeeded by another Congress-supported Prime Minister, Inder Kumar Gujral, who held the post for 332 days.
Therefore, if one counts the two years and 10½ months in office of these “so-called” non-Congress Prime Ministers, the Indian National Congress party has, directly or indirectly, ruled India for 57 years and 100 days, or 81.1% of the 25,799 days since India has been an independent nation (as of April 3, 2018).
It is also incorrect to say that Congress was always the party of choice for India.
In the first Lok Sabha election (1951-52), the party got just 45% of the total votes polled. Independents got 15.9%, Socialist Party (predecessor of several current parties such as JDU, JDS, RLD, etc.) 10.6%, three “Hindu Nationalist” parties got 6%, Left parties 4.4%, and the balance 18.1% went to 42 other parties.
In the second Lok Sabha elections held in 1957, the Nehru-led Congress Party increased its vote share to 47.8% (from 45% in the previous elections).
Independents also grew to 19.1% (from 15.9% earlier), so did Left parties to 9.5% (from 4.4% earlier) and “Hindu Nationalist” parties to 7.2% (from 6.0% earlier); while the Socialist Party just about maintained its share at 10.4% (from 10.6% earlier).
In 1962, Congress’s vote share came down to 44.72%. This means that 55.28% of Indian voters did not vote for Nehru’s Congress.
In February 1967, the first elections fought under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Congress party’s vote share came further down to just 40.78%.
In the fifth general elections since independence, held in March 1971, due to her Garibi Hatao slogan (which was just a slogan, as we all know), Indira’s Congress increased its vote share to 43.68%.
In 1977, post the Emergency, Indira Gandhi’s Congress party got only 34.52% of the total votes, and the first non-Congress Indian Government was formed.
Indira Gandhi bounced back with 42.69% of the votes in 1980.
After her assassination in October 1984, in the elections held just two months later, the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress got a whopping 49.1% of the votes, the only time any single political party in India has gotten close to a majority on its own.
The Congress party has not even touched the 40% mark since then. In fact, in the past 26 years, Congress has not even crossed 29%.
After governing India for five years, the third Prime Minister from the dynasty, Rajiv’s party lost 19.5% of its vote share, going down to 39.53% in the November 1989 general elections.
In May-June 1991, the Rajiv-led Congress (he was assassinated during the elections, after the first phase votes were already cast) managed to get just 35.66% votes.
In April-May 1996, Sonia Gandhi’s Congress got a meagre 28.8% of the 334.87 million votes cast in India. Looking at it another way, just 9.95% of the Indian population voted for Sonia’s Congress in 1996.
One would have thought that Congress would bounce back in the February 1998 elections, considering that no one else had been able to provide a stable government in the intervening 21 months.
Guess what? They got just 25.82% of the votes in the 1998 elections.
As the Vajpayee government lasted only for 13 months, Lok Sabha elections had to be held again in Sept-October 1999.
364.437 million people (35.3% of India’s population) voted, and Sonia’s Congress got a mammoth 28.3% of these votes. Yes, 9.99% of India wanted Sonia as PM.
Sonia finally fulfilled her dream in 2004, when she got to appoint her own “puppet” as the Prime Minister of India. Had the people of India given her the mandate? You would assume so, right? Exactly 103,408,949 people voted for her. Though these may have been 26.52% of the total voters, they were just 9.18% of the country’s population at that time.
671,487,930 people were eligible to vote, but just 389,948,330 (or 58.05% of the electorate) turned up at the voting booths and actually pressed on the EVM button of their choice (or was it ballot paper then?).
How on earth do 9.18% of Indians (or about 14.1% of adult Indians) decide who should form the central government? This is a huge problem with the Indian electoral system.
Coming back to Congress party’s declining popularity, after five years of wonderful governance by the first Sonia Sarkar (under her puppet PM, Dr Manmohan Singh), the party only managed to increase its vote share by 7.65%, to 28.55%.
What happened in 2014? How did Narendra Modi become Prime Minister? India now had 834,082,814 eligible voters, 24.2% higher than just ten years ago. Yes, there was a population explosion between 1986 and 1996 – weren’t you also born then?
45 political parties recognized by the Election Commission of India (ECI), and 419 unrecognized parties, contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections – the largest election in world history.
8,251 candidates stood for 543 seats (two seats have Anglo Indians nominated by the President of India), at an average of 15.2 candidates per seat.
The voter turnout percentage was 14.18% higher than in 2009, perhaps as a result of BJP’s PM candidate literally pleading people to come out and vote. In terms of actual numbers, 32.81% more people voted in 2010, compared with 2009.
Total voter turnout was about 66.4%. Nagaland recorded the highest turnout of 87.82%, while J&K had the lowest at 49.52%.
For the first time, voters had a NOTA (None of the Above) option on the ballot papers and EVMs.
The process of counting began on May 16, 2014, across the country, at 989 counting centres, which had almost one million counting personnel, and more than 550,000 security personnel.
There was an air of anticipation and excitement about the results, because of the large electoral turnout, and the much hyped Modi Wave. As early as 9am, it was almost clear (to those who cared) who would be the major player in India’s 16th Lok Sabha.
The Modi-led BJP got 171,660,230 votes, 60.53% more than Sonia’s Congress, whose vote share was down to an abysmally low 19.31%. Heck, Mamata Banerjee got a fifth of those votes in West Bengal alone. I must add here that the total votes BJP got in 2014 were 44.12% higher than in 2009, when the Congress got its highest number of votes in any Lok Sabha election.
It was also 20.58% of India’s total adult population, more than double of what Congress has managed to get since the Indira assassination sympathy vote in 1984.
Despite the fact that 80.69% of voters rejected Sonia Gandhi’s Congress just four years ago, her son Rahul “Pappu” Gandhi, and his chamchas-chelas, more popularly known as Pidis (named after his pet dog), keep screaming all the time – on TV as well as on social media, that the nation wants the Congress party.
To read many other similar interesting facts, statistics and things that you DO NOT KNOW about the history of India, please buy my book DEMYTHSIFYING MYTHS from https://www.amazon.in/Demythsifying-Myths-Demystifying-about-India/dp/1642499226/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532430812&sr=8-1&keywords=demythsifying+myths