In India, elections take place for electing Members of the Lok Sabha or the Vidhan Sabha or the representatives of Gram Panchayat or Municipal Bodies. An election is a contest among candidates in order to seek the membership of a legislative body or a representative institution to attain a public position.

Elections, to the legislatures and local government bodies are held periodically, usually after a particular period. The whole country or the entire State or the area of the concerned local body is divided into a number of constituencies. Each constituency returns one representative from a number of candidates who contest elections. The candidate who gets the largest number of votes as against the other candidates in the constituency is declared elected.

A Constituency is a territorial area delimited separately for the Parliament, the State Legislature and the local bodies in India. Each constituency returns a single
representative.

A Candidate is a prospective person seeking some position through election. He or She is either the incumbent seeking re-election or is a challenger seeking to
unseat the incumbent or is simply an aspirant for an open seat.

A Manifesto is a document which outlines the proposed programmes and policies of the political parties.

Importance of Elections

Elections provide opportunities to the people to participate actively in the functioning of the democratic government. These are the most important expressions of public opinion, as these enable the people to express their will. In fact, elections widen the scope of political awakening among the masses and educate them by familiarising them with issues of public concern.

Elections facilitate peaceful transfer of power from one political party or one group of political parties to another and legitimise the working of the government by justifying the authority of representatives to lead people.

Types of Elections

The kinds of elections that take place in India may be understood in two ways. Firstly, there are direct and indirect elections. In direct elections, people vote directly through their ballot to elect their representatives to legislative bodies (Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies) and local government institutions.

Indirect elections are in which the elected representatives of the people vote for electing persons to occupy certain positions. The President and the Vice-President of India are indirectly elected. The members of the Rajya Sabha also are elected indirectly. Moreover, certain percentage of members of the Legislative Councils (that are present in some of the States) are indirectly elected by the members of the concerned Legislative Assemblies.

There is another three categories of elections. These are:

  1. General Elections
  2. Mid-term Elections
  3. Bye-elections

The General Elections are held all over the country, for the Lok Sabha or for the State Legislative Assemblies. Such elections are held after the expiry of the full term of the legislature. If the elections are held before the completion of the normal term of the legislature owing to the dissolution of legislative bodies, these are called Mid-term Elections. Bye-elections are held in a particular constituency owing to a vacancy caused by resignation or death of the elected member, or when the election of a particular member is set aside by the judiciary. In such elections, the member is elected for the remaining period of term of the legislature.

The first general elections (Parliamentary Elections) were held in India in the year 1952. The Lok Sabha elections of 1980, 1991, 1998 and 1999 were Mid-term Elections, held before the schedule. The 1977 Lok Sabha elections were deferred for about two years on account of the proclamation of National Emergency in India.