1991 Indian general election

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1991 Indian general election

← 1989 20 May, 12 June, and 15 June 1991[1]
19 February 1992 (Punjab)
1996 →

534 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha
268 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  P. V. Narasimha Rao.JPG Lal Krishna Advani 2008-12-4.jpg V. P. Singh (cropped).jpg
Leader P. V. Narasimha Rao L.K. Advani V.P. Singh
Leader's seat Nandyal New Delhi (vacated)
Seats won 244 120 59
Seat change Increase 47 Increase 35 Decrease 84
Popular vote 101,285,692 55,843,074 32,628,400
Percentage 36.40% 20.07% 11.73%

Wahlergebnisse Indien 1991.svg

Prime Minister before election

Chandra Shekhar
Samajwadi Janata Party

Prime Minister after election

P. V. Narasimha Rao

General elections were held in India on 20 May, 12 June and 15 June 1991 to elect the members of the 10th Lok Sabha, although they were delayed until 19 February 1992 in Punjab.

No party could muster a majority in the Lok Sabha, resulting in the Indian National Congress forming a minority government under new Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao with the support of other parties.

Elections were not held in 2 seats in Bihar and 1 seat in Uttar Pradesh. Elections were not held for the six seats allocated to Jammu and Kashmir, nor for two seats in Bihar and one in Uttar Pradesh. Voter turnout was the lowest to date in an Indian general election.[2]


The 1991 elections were held as the previous Lok Sabha, with Chandra Sekhar at its helm had been dissolved just 16 months after government formation. Over 500 million eligible voters were once again given the chance to elect their government.[3] The elections were held in a polarised environment and are also referred to as the 'Mandal-Mandir' elections after the two most important poll issues, the Mandal Commission fallout and the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.

Mandal-Mandir Issue[edit]

While the Mandal Commission report implemented by the VP Singh government gave 27 per cent reservation to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in government jobs, it led to widespread violence and protests across the country, with many students in and around Delhi even setting themselves on fire. Mandir represented the hallmark of this election, where there was a debate over the disputed Babri Masjid structure at Ayodhya, which the Bharatiya Janata Party was using as its major election manifesto.

The Mandir issue led to numerous riots in many parts of the country and the electorate was polarised on caste and religious lines. With the National Front falling apart, the Congress managed to make the most of the polarisation, by getting the most seats and forming a minority government.[4]

Rajiv Gandhi Assassination[edit]

A day after the first round of polling took place on 20 May, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for Margatham Chandrasekar at Sriperembudur. The remaining election days were postponed until mid-June and voting finally took place on 12 and 15 June. Voting was the lowest ever in parliamentary elections with just 53 per cent of the electorate exercising their right to vote.

Since the assassination took place after first phase of polling in 211 of 534 constituencies and the balance constituencies went to polls after the assassination, the 1991 results varied greatly between phases.[5] Congress was almost wiped out in the first phase, and rode a massive sympathy wave to sweep the second phase[3].The end result was a Congress-led minority government led by P. V. Narasimha Rao, who had previously announced his retirement from politics.While P.V. Narsimha Rao had not contested in the election \, he contested in a by-election in Nandyal which he won by a record five lakh votes

Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab[edit]

76 to 126 people were shot dead during campaign on 17 June 1991 in two attacks by gunmen in Punjab, an area racked by separatist violence. Police reports said the killings, on separate trains, were carried out by Sikh militants.[6] No elections were held in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, a total of 19 Lok Sabha seats.[7] Elections were held in Punjab on 19 February 1992,[8] where INC won 12 out of 13 seats,[9] thereby taking their tally in the Lok Sabha up from 232 to 244.


Lua error: too many expensive function calls.

Delayed elections in Punjab[edit]

Lua error: too many expensive function calls.


Congress was in a position to form government. The persons, mentioned in media, as probable Prime Minister, were:[10]

Congress eventually formed the government under the Prime Ministership of P. V. Narasimha Rao. After Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rao was the second Congress Prime Minister from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family and the first Congress Prime Minister to head a minority government that completed full 5-year term.[12] He introduced Economic reforms in India.

See also[edit]


  1. "1991 India General (10th Lok Sabha) Elections Results". www.elections.in. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  2. "India: parliamentary elections Lok Sabha, 1991". archive.ipu.org. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "INKredible India: The story of 1991 Lok Sabha election - All you need to know". Zee News. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  4. "History Revisited: How political parties fared in 1991 Lok Sabha election". Zee News. 6 April 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  5. The congress party did poorly in the pre-assassination constituencies and swept the post-assassination constituencies
  6. Crossette, Barbara (17 June 1991). "Party of Gandhi Narrowly Ahead in India Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  7. "Once Upon a Poll: Tenth Lok Sabha Elections (1991)". The Indian Express. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  8. Vinayak, Ramesh (3 September 2013) [February 29, 1992]. "With militant scare and Akali boycott, Punjab elections may be a damp squib". India Today. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  9. "1992 India General Elections Results". www.elections.in. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 "Rao, Pawar in race for CPP-I leadership". The Indian Express. Madras. 18 June 1991. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  11. "A meeting of hearts". The Indian Express. Madras. 15 June 1991. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  12. "How Shukla saved Rao govt in 1992". The Times of India. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
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