According to our country’s preamble to the Constitution, India is a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic. In order to become a democratic republic, it was essential for India to hold free and fair elections where the Indian public would play the crucial role in the election in the government. Let’s see what were the challenges behind the first general election of India.
The elections were to be held, taking into consideration the directives written in Constitution. The Constitution asked for the formation of an Election Commission, which will direct and control the entire process of elections. It was their duty to conduct free and fair elections without any corruption or malpractices.
On 25th January 1950, the Election Commission was established with a goal of administering all election to the Parliament of India, the office of the President and Vice President and the state legislature. The Election Commission was to be head by a Chief Election Commissioner. The first CEC of India was Sukumar Sen.
Functions of the Election Commission –
In order to hold “free and fair” elections, the Election Commission’s duty was to issue a Model Code of Conduct to the political parties and the candidates. Every new political party had to register itself with the Commission to participate in the elections. The guideline that was laid down by the EC was to be strictly followed by the candidates and the political parties.
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It was the responsibility of the Election Commission to put checks and balances in place if any. Apart from these duties, they were also in charge of the announcement of the Election dates and the preparation of the electoral rolls.
The challenges behind the first general election of India –
Election in India proved to be a big experiment in the history of democracy. The government of India was aware that holding elections in a country where poverty, illiteracy and rural population was at its peak was not to be an easy task. The fundamental question that arose was “how would the Indian public react to this”.
According to the Constitution, the election of the government was to be held on the basis of the Universal Adult Franchise. Universal Adult Franchise stated that any person who was 21 or above was eligible to vote. The elections were to be held without any reservations on caste, creed or gender. Anyone and everyone who was 21 or above could come and cast a vote.
The path to the first general election was not as easy as it seemed to be. Many had their own reservation about how a country full of illiterates could cast the vote in a politically sound manner.
The creation of the voter’s list was the fundamental task of conducting the elections. The Election Commission decided on a house to house survey to register the voter and make them aware of the Election. The men were quick to register, but the issue arose when the women registered themselves as someone’s mother or wife instead of revealing their real identity. As a result of this, when the list reached the Election Commission around 2.8 million names of women voters were cut down.
As illiteracy was a heaving issue in India, it was decided that the potential candidates would be represented by the symbols assigned to the political parties and independent candidates. The symbols were to be painted on each of the ballot box and the voter had to drop the ballot paper on the symbol of their choice. One would be shocked to know that the first election of Congress was two bullocks. The election was to be conducted on a secret ballot.
It was decided that whoever got the largest number of votes ( the majority of ballot paper) won. The election was to take place between 1951 – 1952 in all the states of India.