A to Z of Electoral Indian Politics


Air war: The battle between candidates to get as much advertising on television and radio as possible. In recent years, with rise of social media, profiles, followers, trollers, hashtags, and traditional startup growth hacking have grown increasingly important. Young womxn are often blamed for spending too much time on social media but little do they realize, that they can channel all that skill, experience, and energy into winning or helping other womxn win elections.Volunteer as a social media expert for Womxn Leaders today

Affidavit : An affidavit filed by a candidate standing in Lok Sabha or Assembly elections is an official declaration of vital information associated with him/her such as the amount of property/wealth owned and criminal cases pending against them. Find all candidate affidavits here.

Ballot  : During the first elections in 1951, there were separate ballot boxes for each candidate with the party's symbol and his name kept in a restricted covered area. Single ballot paper with party symbol and candidate's name came a few years later to today's EVMs. This system of separate boxes was used in the elections during 1951-1952 and 1957. Single ballot paper with single ballot boxes was introduced in 1962. EVMs were introduced in all state and general elections 2003 onwards.

By-Elections : Elections which are conducted only in a particular constituency or few particular constituencies because of

  • Sudden death of the MLA/MP.
  • Resignation to his/her post
  • Disqualified for any serious reason
  • In any of the above scenarios, the election commission of India identifies the seat as vacant and notifies for the election. This election is called the bye-election. (The elected representative thus, will remain in office only until the next general elections.)

Bye-Laws : Bye-laws are laws  law established by an organisation or community to regulate itself and its members. The Indian constitution has vested the authority of bye laws to the legislature, as the representative of the people.

Candidate : An applicant for a political position. Till 2019, across all latest  National and State level elections, 40064 candidates ran for approximately 5000 Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats. Only 3338 candidates out of whom were females, a paltry 8% representation in running. A total of 319 women won in these elections. To achieve true equality and representation, the number of female candidates running for office at should be around 18,000-20,000, almost 6-7x of present candidature.

Constitution of India: The Constitution of India came into force on 26th January, 1950. At the time of its adoption, the Constitution contained 395 Articles and 8 Schedules and was about 145,000 words long, making it the longest national Constitution to ever be adopted.

Councillor : A councillor is a member of a local city municipal corporation and is a member of the urban local governing body. There are total of 205 municipal corporations in India, all with varying levels of budgets, powers, and governance efficiency of running the cities. Read here on Times of India, why for a dismal salary of Rs 4400 per month, many people contest to run for councillor, a ticket to state and national level politics.

Democracy: The concept of democracy as visualised by the Constitution pre-supposes the representation of the people in Parliament and State legislatures by the method of election. The Supreme Court has held that democracy is one of the inalienable basic features of the Constitution of India and forms part of its basic structure.

Deposit :The deposit is used to pay for infringements of election laws and is returned after polling day unless the candidate loses and fails to garner more than one-eighth of the votes cast.

Election : An election is an official cluster decision-making process by which the people select an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual instrument by which modern representative democracy has functioned since the 17th century. Part XV of the Constitution of India which deals with Articles 324 to 329, lays the requirements and framework of Elections in India. The constitution of India is led by the principal of 'of the people, by the people, for the people' and our electoral process plays a key role in upholding that.

Election Commission: India has an independent Election Commission in charge of conducting the elections, preparing electoral rolls, and issuing special directions in cases where election laws enacted by the Parliament have inadequate provisions. The ECI consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and 2 other Election Commissioners. The multi-member ECI works on the power of majority vote.

Exit Poll : Exit polls are basically a poll or survey of voters exiting polling stations after casting their votes. One of the most common methods is sampling.Section 126A of the Representation of the People's Act, 1951 clearly states that "No person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print or electronic media or disseminate in any other manner, whatsoever, the result of an exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Election Commission in this regard." Read more here

Federalism: Thus a federation is a system of national and local governments, combined under a common sovereignty with both national as well as federating units having autonomous spheres assigned to them by the constitution. India opted for quasi-federal structure after independence. The term “federal” has not been mentioned in the constitution but the working of Indian democracy is essentially federal in structure. India has a mix of cooperative and competitive federalism.

False Statement : Section 8A which disqualifies any candidate found guilty of corrupt practice from contesting the election. Non-disclosure of information has been interpreted as a corrupt practice amounting to disqualification under section 8A, but, the courts’ silent stance in the treatment of filing false information has led to the understanding that filing false information does not amount to corrupt practice. This means that candidates who do not disclose certain information can be disqualified, but those who file false information can only be punished for maximum six months. Read more here

First past the post : Unlike other voting systems, in the UK it is simply the candidate with the most votes in each constituency who gets to be its MP. No second choices. No transferable vote. No proportional representation. Just winner-takes-all.

Governer : The Governor is the head of a state just like the President is the head of the republic. The Governor is the nominal head of a state, while the Chief Minister is the executive head. According to an amendment in the Constitution of India, brought about in 1956, the same person can be the Governor of two or more states. Apart from the governors in the states, Lieutenant governors are appointed in Union Territories, with the same powers of Governors of states.

Hung Parlimanet : When no party or pre-poll alliance is able to secure a majority in the election, this leads to a hung Parliament. A party or coalition needs to win one seat above the 50% mark, in order to form the government. If it is unable to do so, the President may invite the leader of the single largest party/alliance in the House to try to secure the confidence of the House. In the alternative, the President may invite a combination of parties who, in his opinion, might be in a position to command a majority in the House.

Independent : An independent candidate is one who contests polls without being affiliated to any political party. In the first general elections in 1952, 36 Independents won — the highest so far. The lowest was in 1991, when one Independent won. In 2019, four Independents will enter the Lok Sabha.

Incumbent: The incumbent is the current holder of an office or position, usually in relation to an election. Anti-incumbency simply refers to a vote exercised against the elected officials in power. Ruchir Sharma, who authored “Democracy on The Road”, says that India has the highest rate of anti-incumbency in the world. “Two out of the three governments get thrown out in India,”says Sharma. Anti-incumbency sentiments also stem out of voters frustration with the elected leader and in some cases out of the desire for change. Read more about anti-incumbency here.

Jurisdiction : The jurisdiction of the Election Commission is wide enough to include all powers necessary for smooth conduct of elections and the word ‘elections’ is used in a wide sense to include the entire process of election which consists of several stages and embraces many steps. The Election Commission has also been vested with another advisory jurisdiction under the law. If a person is found guilty of a corrupt practice at an election either by a high court in an election petition or by the Supreme Court in an election appeal, the President decides the question whether such person should be disqualified for contesting future elections, on-advise of the ECI. Thus, though the order is issued by the President, it is in fact the Election Commission which decides the basic issue of post-election ‘ disqualification of sitting members of Parliament

Karyekarta : Foot soldiers of any political party.

Landslide : A landslide victory is an electoral victory in a political system, when a change in people's views on political matters results in one candidate or party receiving an overwhelming majority of the votes or seats in the elected body

Mayor: The Mayor is the head of the municipal corporation, but in most states and territories of India the role is largely ceremonial as executive powers are vested in the Municipal Commissioner.

Majority Vote: A majority vote means that a candidate is elected only when a majority of eligible voters have voted for them. The same term applies when a resolution is passed based on the support of a majority of eligible voters. The majority vote is one of the two main types of election systems used to allocate seats: the other being proportional representation.

Mode of Conduct: The Model Code of Conduct (MCC for short) is a set of rules put in force by the Election Commission of India to guarantee free and fair elections. It is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit. The MCC is valid from the date of announcement of an election, either to the Parliament, State Assembly or Districts, and continues through the election in question.

None of the Above (NOTA): NOTA, or "None of the Above", is the option which enables the voter to officially register a vote of rejection for all candidates who are contesting. If a voter chooses to press NOTA it indicates that the voter has not chosen to vote for any of the party. It was introduced in 2014 Rajya Sabha elections

Opposition: Official Opposition is a term used in Parliament of India and State Legislatures to designate the political party which has secured the second largest number of seats in either upper or lower houses. Nehru's first cabinet had opposition leaders (Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and BR Ambedkar) as well.

Petition: An Election petition is a procedure for inquiring into the validity of the election results of Parliamentary or local government elections. In other words, it is a means under law to challenge the election of a candidate in a Parliamentary, Assembly or local election. Election petitions are filed in the High Court of the particular state in which the election was conducted. Read more here

Psephology: Psephology is the study of results and other figures relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results).

Quorum: A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly (a body that uses parliamentary procedure, such as a legislature) necessary to conduct the business of that group. The quorum of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha is One-tenth of the total membership of each house.  If there is no quorum, it shall be the duty of the chairman or speaker to adjourn the house or suspend the meeting. Constitution has fixed one-tenth strength as a quorum for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The term of individual members is six years.

Regulation : A regulation is a law issued by an executive body.

Returning Officer: The Returning Officer (RO) is responsible for conducting elections in a constituency, which also includes counting of votes.[3] The RO is an officer of the government or a local authority nominated by the ECI for each constituency in consultation with the state government.

Symbol : All registered parties contesting elections need to choose a symbol from a list of available symbols offered by the EC. Voting is done based on these symbols. Read more here The Election Commission of India (ECI) currently maintains a pool of thousands of symbols. The images represent aspects of everyday life in India, from a stack of tires and a gramophone, to an auto rickshaw and even a cricket player. Parties must choose three symbols, in order of preference, after which they are allocated one by the ECI. Once an image is "reserved," it cannot be used by any other party, leaving new entrants to pick from a list of "free" symbols.

Swing: A vote that has a decisive influence on the result of a poll. A swing vote is a vote that is seen as potentially going to any of a number of candidates in an election, or, in a two-party system, may go to either of the two dominant political parties. In 2019, women were touted as the swing voters.

Ticket : Ticket is a license to represent the political party. A Ticket holder will have to motivate the voters to strengthen the party. A party ticket holder will always work within the envelop of the Party Manifesto and he himself can not add or subtract any point of the Party manifesto.

Tactical voting : Tactical voting refers to the practice of voting for a candidate that is not one's favourite in order to prevent a less desirable candidate from winning.

Undecided voters : A problem for opinion pollsters, who often exclude them from their headline figures, and the very people parties have been wooing in their campaigns. In a tight election, it is their last-minute decisions that will shape the next parliament.

Voter Apathy : Voter apathy refers to a lack of interest in participating in elections by certain groups of voters.

Voters List: This list is officially called the Electoral Roll and is commonly known as the Voters' List.

Vice-President: The Vice-President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both House of Parliament

Winner: If a candidate gets more votes than all other competing candidates, they are declared the winner in a first past the post system.

X Factor :P

Youth vote: With a median age of 27.9 years in 2018, India is a young country. By 2020, youth will make up 34% of the country’s population. Forty-five million young people, having become eligible to vote as they turned 18, have been added to India’s electoral roll since 2014, according to 2018 data from the Election Commission. This has expanded the voter list by 5% since 2014. 45 million Indians were eligible for voting for the first time in 2019

Zila Parishad election: Members of the Zila Parishad are elected from the district on the basis of adult franchise for a term of five years. These councillors are chosen by direct election from electoral divisions in the district. The chairmen of all the Panchayat Samitis under the district are the ex officio members of Zila Parishad

Sources :

  1. Guardian : https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/12/a-z-of-election-night-jargon
  2. BBC : https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37385625
  3. https://www.polyas.com/election-glossary
  4. https://www.ijlsi.com/constitutional-provisions-for-elections-in-india/
Oct 3, 2020

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