Within two years of Independence, the makers of modern India had set up the Election Commission. They clearly knew the first general elections would be an important step towards propping up democracy after centuries of colonial rule. Sukumar Sen, a mathematician educated in the London University, was appointed the Chief Election Commissioner in March 1950, a month before the Representation of the People Act was passed in Parliament. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was then the interim prime minister of India, expressed hope that the elections be carried out by as early as the spring of 1951. It was a gigantic task as hand. “A newly independent country chose to move straight to universal adult suffrage, rather than – as had been the case in the West – at first reserve the right to vote to men of property, with the working class and women excluded from the franchise until much later,” writes historian Ramachandra Guha in his book ‘India after Gandhi’. He goes on to note that “India’s first general election was, among other things, an act of faith”. The colossal scale of the elections and its preparation was perhaps the reason why it was postponed, finally taking place in the… Read full this story
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