Chapter 2 - Era of One-Party Dominance : Important Questions and Answers

List of Questions and Answers

1.By the time of Independence, why was the Congress Party called a "rainbow-like" social coalition?

Ans:The Congress was transformed into a rainbow-like social coalition broadly representing India's diversity in terms of classes and castes, religions and languages and various interests.

2.Mention the difficulties faced by the Election Commission during the first general elections.

Ans:The Election Commission of India was set up in January 1950. Sukumar Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner.
Following were the difficulties faced by election commission:

  • To start with the election , there had to be a delimitation or drawing the boundaries of the electoral constituencies.The voters list eligible for the election has to be listed out.It took a long time for election commission to get it done.
  • When the first draft of the voters list was ready, it was discovered that the names of nearly 40 lakh women were not recorded in the list. They were simply listed as "wife of …" or "daughter of …".
  • The Election Commission refused to accept these entries and ordered a revision if possible and deletion if necessary. Preparing for the first general election was a mammoth exercise.

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3.Discuss the emergence of opposition parties in India.


  • The roots of almost all the non-Congress parties of today were opposition parties of the 1950s.
  • All these opposition parties succeeded in gaining only a token representation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies during this period.
  • Yet their presence played a crucial role in maintaining the democratic character of the system.
  • These parties offered a sustained and often principled criticism of the policies and practices of the Congress party.
  • This kept the ruling party under check and often changed the balance of power within the Congress.
  • These parties also groomed the leaders who were to play a crucial role in the shaping of our country.

4.Right from its origin in 1885 as a pressure group, how did Congress evolve as a social and ideological coalition?

Right from its origin since 1885 as a pressure group ,Congress transformed into a mass political party.

  • Congress party was mostly dominated by the English speaking, upper caste, upper middle-class and urban elite. Later they brought together different groups, whose interests were often contradictory. Peasants and industrialists, urban dwellers and villagers, workers and owners, middle, lower and upper classes and castes, all found space in the Congress.
  • The leadership of Congress party expanded beyond the upper caste and upper class professionals to agriculture based leaders with a rural orientation.
  • By the time of Independence, the Congress was transformed into a rainbow-like social coalition broadly representing India's diversity in terms of classes and castes, religions and languages and various interests.
  • Most of the groups merged their identity with congress party.They worked with Congress as groups and individuals holding different beliefs. In this sense the Congress was an ideological coalition as well.
  • It accommodated the revolutionary and pacifist, conservative and radical, extremist and moderate and the right, left and all shades of the centre.
  • The Congress was a "platform" for numerous groups, interests and even political parties to take part in the national movement.

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5.Explain the dominance of the Congress Party in the first three general elections.


  • The Congress party had inherited the legacy of the national movement.It had a great leader Jawaharlal Nehru who led the Congress campaign and toured throughout the country.
  • Congress party won 364 of the 489 seats in the first Lok Sabha and finished way ahead of any other challenger. Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister after the first general election.
  • The state elections were held with the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress scored a big victory in those elections as well.The party ruled all over the country at the national and the state level.
  • In the second and the third general elections, held in 1957 and 1962 respectively, the Congress maintained the same position in the Lok Sabha by winning three-fourth of the seats.
  • The Congress won three out of every four seats but it did not get even half of the votes. In 1952, for example, the Congress obtained 45 per cent of the total votes. But it managed to win 74 per cent of the seats.

6.What was the role of Swatantra Party in Indian Politics?


  • The party favoured expansion of a free private sector and wanted government to be less involved in controlling the economy.
  • The party was against land ceilings in agriculture, and opposed cooperative farming and state trading.They got support from the landlords and princes who wanted to protect their land and status that was being threatened by the land reforms legislation.
  • The party also opposed to the progressive tax regime and demanded the dismantling of the licensing regime.They got support from industrialists and business class who were against nationalisation.
  • The party gained strength in different parts of the Country by merging with numerous regional parties and interests.

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7.How did the methods of voting in free India go on changing from time to time till day?Explain the reasons.


  • In the first general election, it was decided to place inside each polling booth a box for each candidate with the election symbol of that candidate.
  • Each voter was given a blank ballot paper which they had to drop into the box of the candidate they wanted to vote for. About 20 lakh steel boxes were used for this purpose.
  • Each box had to have its candidate’s symbol, both inside and outside it, and outside on either side, had to be displayed the name of the candidate in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi along with the number of the constituency, the polling station and the polling booth.
  • The paper seal with the numerical description of the candidate, signed by the presiding officer, had to be inserted in the token frame and its window closed by its door which had to be fixed in its place at the other end by means of a wire.
  • After the first two elections this method was changed. Now the ballot paper carried the names and symbols of all the candidates and the voter was required to put a stamp on the name of the candidate they wanted to vote for.
  • This method worked for nearly forty years. Towards the end of 1990s the Election Commission started using the EVM. By 2004 the entire country had shifted to the EVM.

8.What distinguished the dominance of the Congress Party in India from the one-party dominance in other countries? Explain.

Ans: India is not the only country to have experienced the dominance of one party. If we look around the world, we find many other examples of one-party dominance.
But there is a difference between the one party dominance in India and the rest. Here are a few points that highlights the same between India and other countries:

  • In some countries like China, Cuba and Syria the constitution permits only a single party to rule the country.
  • Some others like Myanmar, Belarus, Egypt, and Eritrea are effectively one-party states due to legal and military measures.
  • Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan were also effectively one-party dominant states.
  • In India the dominance of the Congress party happened under democratic conditions. Many parties contested elections in conditions of free and fair elections and yet the Congress managed to win election after election.

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9.What would you consider as the main differences between Mexico and India under one party domination?

In Mexico the electoral laws were operated in a manner so as to ensure that the PRI always won. Elections were often rigged and manipulated by the ruling party. Its rule was described as ‘the perfect dictatorship’, hence it saw the dominance of PRI party for almost 6 decades.
Whereas in India the dominance of the Congress party happened under democratic conditions. Many parties contested elections in conditions of free and fair elections and yet the Congress managed to win election after election.