Table 9.1. Success of Indian National Congress and of Opposition Parties in State Legislative Assembly Elections, 1952–72
Space does not permit a detailed analysis of the fortunes of the major national and regional parties, but a few words are in order on the significant setback Congress suffered in the 1967 elections and on the chain of events to which they gave rise. After the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1963, Congress went through a period in which there was no strong leadership at the center and in which a factional power struggle among the leading Congress figures was all too evident to much of the In- dian public. Disenchantment with the relatively slow rate of economic growth, food scarcities, and a host of other internal and external difficulties, combined with distaste for Congress's intraparty politicking, eroded public confidence in the party to a point sufficient to produce the party's poor showing in 1967 and subsequent midterm elections. Perceiving what they thought to be the weakness of Indira Gandhi (prime minister since 1965) in the wake of the 1967 elections, a number of relatively conservative Congress leaders, popularly known as the "Syndicate," challenged her leadership of the party and, failing to gain it, set up the "Congress (Opposition)" party. Mrs. Gandhi's response was to adopt a more socialistic course, nationalizing India's banks, abolishing the privy purses of India's princely houses, and in other ways appealing to the nation's masses. The result is evident in the dramatic come- back of the "Congress (Ruling)" party and the rout of the Con- gress (Opposition) in the Lok Sabha elections of 1971, and in the even more remarkable success of Mrs. Gandhi's party in the 1972 State Assembly elections following close on India's stunning victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war whereby Ban- gladesh became independent of Pakistan. But the power strug- gle between Mrs. Gandhi and the Congress (Opposition), not to mention other parties, was not concluded by the elections of 1971 and 1972. This will be made evident by the "Late Par- ticulars" reported on pages 263–66.
Sources (in addition to those in the General Bibliography)
India, Census (1961, vol. 1, part I–A); India (Republic), Election Commission (various dates); India (Republic), Min- istry of Information and Broadcasting (1967).
A. K. Banerji (1967); C. Baxter (1969); R. Chandidas et al. (1968); E. P. W. da Costa (1967); S. V. Kogekar and R. L. Park (1956); B. L. Sukhwal (1971); M. Weiner and R. Kothari et al. (1965).
IX.B.6. Elections in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Ceylon
Unlike the case of India, before 1975, Pakistan's democracy has run a fitful course. The same may be said of Bangladesh in the brief period of its independent existence, as well as of Nepal. Alone among India's neighbors in South Asia, Ceylon/ Sri Lanka has managed to maintain both the form and the sub- stance of democracy throughout the post-independence era. Plate IX.B.6 portrays for the four countries just noted the
Surveying the party situation revealed by the Pakistani elec- tion maps for those elections in which parties contested freely (maps (a), (c), and (d)), one is impressed by the general lack of a meaningful left-right party spectrum. Parties drew their support primarily on the basis of appeals to regional and/or communal (non-Muslim) sentiments. The same may be said of those periods when party activity was allowed but in which elections were not on the near horizon. Additionally, such groups as did exist focused largely on the leadership of particular political personalities and waxed and waned in strength with their changing fortunes. The largely unpredict- able political bargains struck from time to time among those leaders, and the central government's proclivity to incarcerate those who adopted positions deemed to be dangerous to the state, imparted to the entire political system a remarkably high degree of instability. Parties to the far left were, except for very brief periods, proscribed.
Although a number of allegedly popular elections for pro- vincial legislative assemblies were held in Pakistan before the East Pakistan election in 1954, the first for which we judge a map to be meaningful, they involved only a small fraction of the potential electorate and were later judged by the Electoral Reforms Commission to be "absolutely unsatisfactory" and to have "totally failed to achieve a true representation of the peo- ple." East Pakistan's Provincial Assembly election in 1954 (map (a)) was the only one to be freely contested before martial law was imposed throughout Pakistan in 1958. It re- sulted in a smashing victory for a United Front party coalition that opposed the then dominant Muslim League, called for recognition of Bengali as a national language on a par with Urdu, and urged a much greater degree of provincial auton- omy. The government then installed, however, was to endure only a few months before its chief minister, Fazlul Haq, was imprisoned for "treasonable activities," with the central gov- ernment then instituting governor's rule over the province for one year.
Under the martial-law regime of Ayub Khan, a partyless,
multi-tiered system of "basic democracies" was instituted in
Pakistan in 1960. Under this system direct elections for "basic
democrats" took place only at the local level, all elections for
higher representatives being conducted by indirect balloting
by the basic democrats themselves. In 1962, a new constitution
was promulgated and martial law rescinded, and in 1965, pur-
suant to that constitution, an electoral college of 80,000 basic
democrats carried out a presidential election (map (b)) in
which Ayub defeated his only significant opponent, Miss Fat-
After Ayub's deposition and the reinstitution of martial law in 1969, Pakistan witnessed, in December 1970, its first nation- wide, direct, popular elections for both the National and the Provincial Assemblies (maps (c) and (d) respectively). In the former, the success of the Awami League, campaigning on a platform of autonomy for East Pakistan, was so overwhelm- ing that they were able to gain an absolute majority of all as- sembly seats (160 out of 300). Although it was recognized that such an outcome was possible in light of the fact that East Pakistan had more than half the nation's population and there- fore more than half the total seats, it was not deemed likely when the elections were agreed upon; the presumption seems to have been that the various parties opposing the Awami League candidates would garner a significantly greater num- ber of seats than they actually did. In the four provinces of West Pakistan, where twenty-one parties and numerous inde- pendents contested the election, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with its strength based in Punjab, won 81 seats out of a total of 138, a clear majority.
The central government of Yahya Khan, whose leadership was overwhelmingly from the West, now faced the stupendous task of working out with the Awami League leader, Sheikh Mujib-ur Rahman, and the PPP leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whose strength was too great to ignore, an acceptable formula whereby the former could assume the post of prime minister to which he was legally entitled. The inability of the principal parties to reach an agreement ultimately led to the violence of March 1971 and the subsequent nine months of civil insurrec- tion and war that brought the new state of Bangladesh into existence and led to Yahya Khan's resignation in the West and the assumption of the prime-ministership of the truncated state of Pakistan by Yahya's only logical successor, Z. A. Bhutto himself.
In 1973 the new state of Bangladesh elected its first Na- tional Assembly (map (e)). Riding a tremendous wave of popularity, Sheikh Mujib's party swept all but 8 seats out of a total of 300. Parliamentary democracy in Bangladesh, how- ever, was suspended by the state of emergency declared by Mujib in December 1974. Subsequent events are indicated under the heading "Late Particulars" on page 263.
Nepal has witnessed only a single general election since the overthrow in 1950–51 by King Mahendra of the Rana oli- garchy that had governed that country since 1846. Map (f) portrays the outcome of that election, held in 1959. The par- liamentary government then instituted lasted less than two years. The notes accompanying the map indicate the key events related to Nepal's form of government since 1950.
Party politics in independent Ceylon (maps (g)–(m)) have been both vigorous and complex. Among enduring parties with a significant following, the range on the political spectrum runs from Communists, including the Trotskyite Lanka Sama Samaj on the far left, to the moderate United National Party (UNP). To the left of the UNP, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), established in 1951, has alternated with the UNP in controlling the government since 1947, no other party even having ob- tained as many as an eighth of all the seats in Parliament. Apart from its leftist ideological complexion, the SLFP appeals strongly to both Sinhalese nationalist and Buddhist sentiments and, accordingly, is persistently opposed by various parties rep- resenting the interests of the Tamil (mainly Hindu) portion of the population. The latter group is generally predominant in the country's Northern Province and is important, if not pre- dominant, in the Eastern Province. One might expect it to be important also in the Central Province, given the large pop- ulation of Tamil plantation workers resident there, but few of those workers enjoy the rights of citizenship and consequently their voting strength is low.
The shifts in party favor between UNP and SLFP have been striking from one election to another, largely reflecting the per- ceptions by the electorate of the ruling party's performance in the economic arena. Fluctuating less markedly are their rela- tive shares of the votes as shown by the positions of black dots on the graphs summating the national voting pattern at each election. But because of the number of parties and indepen- dents contesting and the fact that whoever gains a plurality in a constituency, however small it may be, is elected, small shifts in voting strength can mean large gains or losses in number of seats won. Paradoxically, between the elections of March and July 1960 the then-ruling UNP, while actually increasing its share of the total vote and leading all other parties in votes received, lost heavily in seats; the latter election was won by the SLFP, which had a larger relative increase in total votes, sufficient to enable it to win by small margins in a large num- ber of constituencies. Returned to power in 1965, the UNP suffered the same sort of eclipse by the SLFP in 1970 as it did in 1960; the magnitude of its decline, however, was then even greater.
Two final observations relative to voting patterns: first, in none of the seven elections mapped did any single party win