Democracy in Progress

Tracing the history of Indian elections

Indian women await their turn to vote in 1937. Mandated by the Government of India Act, 1935, provincial elections were held under the British Raj in 11 provinces—Assam, the Bombay Presidency, Bengal, Bihar, the Central Provinces, Madras, the North-West Frontier Province, Orissa, Punjab, Sindh and the United Provinces. The Indian National Congress emerged victorious in eight states, barring Bengal, Punjab and Sindh, which had Muslim majorities. In the subsequent provincial elections, in 1946, the All India Muslim League won a majority of the Muslim seats across the provinces. Citing these victories, the AIML claimed to be the sole representative of Indian Muslims during the run-up to Partition. However, it is worth keeping in mind that although the Government of India Act expanded the electorate by around thirty million people, 87 percent of adult Indians still did not have the right to vote. GETTY IMAGES
01 April, 2019