Indian Democracy | Types of Election in India

Time to Read: 8 mins

Indian Democracy is one of the largest democracies in the world with different types of elections. On center level, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and on State level, Vidhan Sabha, Vidhan Parisad are the houses where elected candidates hold their post after winning the election.

Recently, the 2019 Indian general election got over. The fate of the candidates from a total of 543 constituencies is now sealed in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Now, the counting will begin on 23rd May 2019 and India will be getting its Prime Minister, decided by the party in the majority.

But, wait, have you exercised your voting right for electing the candidate of your constituency or for electing the Prime Minister of India?

Got confused? Let’s make it more confusing.

  • How are you responsible for electing the Prime Minister (PM) of India?
  • What do we call this election? Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha?
  • What will you call the winning/elected candidates? MP or MLA?
  • How will you select the State minister or the Chief Minister (CM) of your state?

Too many questions? Isn’t it?

Let’s unfold each of the questions one by one and decode the Indian Democracy and its election system today.


Introduction to the Indian Democracy

India, a growing Asian giant, has the most populous democracy in the world. Under India’s constitution framework, Indian politics follows the federal system. Here, the President is the head of the state and the Prime Minister is the head of the government, consisting of the central authority at the center and states at the periphery.

Above all, the constitution has defined the powers for both the central and state governments.

Who will exercise these powers?

  • The leaders, both at the central as well as the state level, will exercise the powers.

Who will elect these leaders?

  • Since India is a democratic country, the leaders will be elected by the people of India.

How will these leaders be elected?

  • In a democracy the majority rules, and through the voting system, the majority is decided.

The voting system, where we exercise our right to vote, during elections, is the institutional pillar of Indian democracy and the dominant force of the Indian political process.

Let’ see now, various types of Elections that happen in the Republic of India:

  • Lok Sabha elections for MP – Members of the Parliament in Lok Sabha
  • Rajya Sabha elections for MP – Members of the Parliament in Rajya Sabha
  • Vidhan Sabha elections for MLAs – Members of State Legislative Assembly

Lok Sabha/Lower House/House of the People

Lok Sabha election or the general election of the Indian Democracy allows us to elect candidates who represent the people of India as a whole. It happens after every 5 years at one stretch, on a total of 543 constituencies in all the states of India and the union territories. State-wise distribution of constituencies is done on the basis of its population.

Elected candidates are called as ‘Members of Parliament’. They hold their position for 5 years in Lok Sabha (Lower House). Although voting happens on 543 seats only however the president can elect, extra (maximum of) 2 members from the Anglo-Indian community.

Once election gets over, the party in the majority (the party with seats > 50% of the total seats), can choose their leader, called as the Prime Minister of India, who will lead the country for next 5 years.

Check out some facts about Lok Sabha Election 2019.

Lok Sabha Summary

Below table summarizes all the terms about Lok Sabha elections:

Election Name Lok Sabha Election (General Election)
Name of the House Lok Sabha (Lower House) (House of the People)
Maximum Strength 552
Total No. of Seats 543+2(Anglo-Indian: Nominated by the President)
Seats for Majority 273
Elected Candidates Members of Parliament (MP)
Leader of the Majority Prime Minister (PM)
Term of rule 5 years
Occurs when Every 5 years in whole country (all states of India)

Lok Sabha Election: State-wise Seat distribution

Let’s see the 545 seat distribution in each of the states and the union territories:

State/Union Territory Type No. of constituencies
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory 1
Andhra Pradesh State 25
Arunachal Pradesh State 2
Assam State 14
Bihar State 40
Chandigarh Union Territory 1
Chhattisgarh State 11
Dadra and Nagar Haveli Union Territory 1
Daman and Diu Union Territory 1
Delhi Union Territory 7
Goa State 2
Gujarat State 26
Haryana State 10
Himachal Pradesh State 4
Jammu and Kashmir State 6
Jharkhand State 14
Karnataka State 28
Kerala State 20
Lakshadweep Union Territory 1
Madhya Pradesh State 29
Maharashtra State 48
Manipur State 2
Meghalaya State 2
Mizoram State 1
Nagaland State 1
Odisha State 21
Puducherry Union Territory 1
Punjab State 13
Rajasthan State 25
Sikkim State 1
Tamil Nadu State 39
Telangana State 17
Tripura State 2
Uttarakhand State 5
Uttar Pradesh State 80
West Bengal State 42
Nominated Anglo-Indian 2
Total No. of Seats 545

Rajya Sabha/Upper House/Council of States

The Rajya Sabha (Council of States) is the upper house of the Parliament of India. The Vice-President is the chairman of the upper house. Term limit of a Rajya Sabha member is 6 years.

The maximum strength of Rajya Sabha is of 250 members but according to current law, it has the provision of 245 members. Out of which, 233 are elected by the legislatures of the various states and union territories (see Vidhan Sabha explanation below to understand better) using Proportional representation and Single transferable vote through open ballot and the rest 12 members are appointed by the President based on contributions to art, literature, science, and social services.

One-third of the members retire every second year and are replaced by the newly elected members.

How are Rajya Sabha Members elected?

Rajya Sabha Members are elected through Proportional representation and Single transferable vote system.

In simple words, in the election, MLAs or Vidhan Sabha members vote for each of the standing candidates where they assign preference to each of the candidates by giving rank as 1, 2, 3, ……

The winning formula followed is:

  • MLA Votes needed for majority = floor (valid votes cast/ [Seats to fill + 1]) + 1

Rajya Sabha Members Election explained with an example

Let’s understand that with an example and consider the state Tamil Nadu which has 18 Rajya Sabha seats. Now, one-third i.e. 6 (1/3*18) members will retire after every 2 years and the Rajya Sabha election will take place to elect new members and fill the vacant position.

In other words, 6 members will retire in the 1st phase (first 2 years). Again 6 members in the 2nd phase and finally, 6 members will be replaced in the 3rd phase. So, as a result, after 6 years i.e. a full-term, all the members will be shuffled in Rajya Sabha.

Let’ say now, first 2 years are completed and as a result, the election has to take place for the 6 vacant seats.

So, in our case,

  • Valid votes to cast = 234 (No. of MLAs/ Total Vidhan Sabha Seats)
  • Furthermore, Total Seats to be filled = 6 MLAs required
  • Minimum MLA votes required for majority = floor (234/ [6+1]) + 1 = floor (234/7) + 1 = 33 + 1 = 34

So, the magic number is 34. As a result, if any candidate gets 34 or more 1st preference votes, is elected directly. In this process, if less than 6 candidates (required number here) are elected then the second preference votes will come into the picture. Even if by the 2nd preference votes, 6 candidates are not elected then the 3rd preference votes are counted and so on, till all the 6 candidates are elected.

Rajya Sabha Summary

Below table summarizes all the terms about Rajya Sabha elections:

Election Name Rajya Sabha Election
Name of the House Rajya Sabha (Upper House) (Council of States)
Maximum Strength 250
Total No. of Seats 233+12 (Nominated by the President)
Elected Candidates Members of Parliament (MP)
Term of rule 6 years
Occurs when Newly elected members replace one-third of the members every second year

Rajya Sabha: State-wise Seat distribution

Below table represents the list of constituencies by States/Union Territories

State and Union Territory Seats
Andhra Pradesh 11
Arunachal Pradesh 1
Assam 7
Bihar 16
Chhattisgarh 5
Goa 1
Gujarat 11
Haryana 5
Himachal Pradesh 3
Jammu and Kashmir 4
Jharkhand 6
Karnataka 12
Kerala 9
Madhya Pradesh 11
Maharashtra 19
Manipur 1
Meghalaya 1
Mizoram 1
Nagaland 1
National Capital Territory of Delhi 3
Nominated 12
Odisha 10
Puducherry 1
Punjab 7
Rajasthan 10
Sikkim 1
Tamil Nadu 18
Telangana 7
Tripura 1
Uttar Pradesh 31
Uttarakhand 3
West Bengal 16
Total 245

The Parliament of India/Sansad Bhavan

The Parliament of India (Sansad Bhavan) is the supreme legislative body. It is composed of the President and the two houses: the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the Lok Sabha (Lower House).

The Head of the legislature, the President, who has the power to summon either house of the Parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha but the president can exercise these powers only upon the advice of the Prime Minister and his Union Council of Ministers.

Members elected to either house of the Parliament are referred to as Members of Parliament (MP). The total strength of the Parliament (Sansad Bhavan) consists of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Members.

Let’s summarize the points below:

Name of the Supreme Legislative body The Parliament (Sansad Bhavan)
Consists of The President
Lok Sabha
Rajya Sabha
Head of legislature The President
Elected Members Members of Parliament (MP)
Total Strength 545 (543+2) in Lok Sabha
245 (233+12) in Rajya Sabha

The State legislature

A State legislature is the legislative body of a political subdivision. It consists of Governor of the state and one house (Vidhan Saba) or two houses (Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad) depending on states’ political system.

As you saw, in the center, there are two houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Similarly, for states, some states have two houses (bicameral Legislature) based on the constitutional framework of Indian democracy.

Seven Indian states, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, have bicameral Legislatures.

  • State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) – Lower House
  • State Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) – Upper House

Other states have unicameral Legislature (Only Vidhan Sabha/Lower House).

Along with the states, even two of the union territories, Delhi and Puducherry, also have State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) (Unicameral Legislature).


Vidhan Sabha Election/State Legislative Assembly

Vidhan Sabha is the lower house of the State legislature and direct public voting happens for electing members of Lower House. The Public decides the Prime Minister (PM) in the center during Lok Sabha election and in each of the states, the Chief Minister (CM) during Vidhan Sabha elections.

Elected members for Vidhan Sabha (Lower House) are referred to as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). However, there are between seven and nine Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) for every Member of Parliament (MP) of Lok Sabha in each State.

Furthermore, the strength of Vidhan Sabha varies from 40 to 500 as it depends on the population of the state. Although some states with very less population have strength even less than 40 like Sikkim (32), Puducherry (33), Mizoram (40) and Goa (40).

Likewise in Lok Sabha where the president has the power to nominate 2 Anglo Indians here in Vidhan Sabha, the Governor has the power to nominate 1 member from the Anglo Indian community.

Once Vidhan Sabha election of a State gets over, the party in the majority (the party with seats > 50% of total seats), can choose their leader. Hence, the selected leader will be the Chief Minister (CM) of that state. The CM will lead the State for the next 5 years.

Vidhan Sabha Summary

Below table summarizes all the terms about Vidhan Sabha elections:

Election Name Vidhan Sabha Election
Name of the House Vidhan Sabha (State Legislative Assembly)
Maximum Strength 500
Total No. of Seats Based on population of the State
Seats for Majority Based on no. of constituencies in the State
Elected Candidates Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)
Leader of the Majority Chief Minister (CM)
Term of rule 5 years
Occurs when Every 5 years in a State (Timing varies as it depends on State)

Vidhan Sabha Election: State-wise Seat distribution

Let’s see the Vidhan Sabha seat distribution in each of the states and the two union territories:

State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) No. of constituencies
Andhra Pradesh 175
Arunachal Pradesh 60
Assam 126
Bihar 243
Chhattisgarh 90
Delhi 70
Goa 40
Gujarat 182
Haryana 90
Himachal Pradesh 68
Jammu and Kashmir 87
Jharkhand 81
Karnataka 224
Kerala 140
Madhya Pradesh 230
Maharashtra 289
Manipur 60
Meghalaya 60
Mizoram 40
Nagaland 60
Odisha 147
Puducherry 30
Punjab 117
Rajasthan 200
Sikkim 32
Tamil Nadu 234
Telangana 119
Tripura 60
Uttarakhand 70
Uttar Pradesh 403
West Bengal 294

Summary of Indian Democracy through Image

Infographic-Indian Democracy

Finally, you have got the knowledge which many people won’t have. So, let’s share it and make each one educated about the Indian constitution, the Indian democracy, and the Indian election system.

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2 thoughts on “Indian Democracy | Types of Election in India

  • 18th June 2019 at 1:39 pm
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    Hey, how’s it going?

    I want to pass along some very important news that everyone needs to hear!

    In December of 2017, Donald Trump made history by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Why is this big news? Because by this the Jewish people of Israel are now able to press forward in bringing about the Third Temple prophesied in the Bible.

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    “EITHER HUMAN INTELLIGENCE ULTIMATELY OWES ITS ORIGIN TO MINDLESS MATTER OR THERE IS A CREATOR…” – JOHN LENNOX

    We all know God exists. Why? Because without Him, we couldn’t prove anything at all. Do we live our lives as if we cannot know anything? No. So why is God necessary? In order to know anything for certain, you would have to know everything, or have revelation from somebody who does. Who is capable of knowing everything? God. So to know anything, you would have to be God, or know God.

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    It has been calculated by Roger Penrose that the odds of the initial conditions for the big bang to produce the universe that we see to be a number so big, that we could put a zero on every particle in the universe, and even that would not be enough to use every zero. What are the odds that God created the universe? Odds are no such thing. Who of you would gamble your life on one coin flip?

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