Apart from the fact that who is winner and who is runner-up, another fact which interests people in elections is that how many contesting candidates could save their security deposits. It is also a matter of pride for the candidates if they save their deposits, whereas forfeiture of deposit is often seen as humiliating. As per the Election Commission of India Rules, if the candidate fails to get a minimum of one-sixth of the total valid votes polled, the deposit goes to the treasury.
In First Lok Sabha Elections in 1951-52, almost 40% i.e. 745 out of 1874 candidates forfeited their deposits. Since then, almost all Lok Sabha Elections witnessed northward trend of lost deposits. Its peak came in the 11th Lok Sabha Elections in 1996, where 91 percent or 12688 out of 13952 candidates lost their deposits. This was the elections which also saw highest number of candidates contesting for Lok Sabha. In this context, last Lok Sabha Elections in 2009 turned out to be not so good for the candidates when as many as 85 percent of them lost their deposits, percentage-wise the third highest after 91% in 1996 elections and 86% in 1991 elections. It shows that forfeiture of deposit has not been a deterrent for not contesting elections.
Candidates from National parties have fared well in saving their deposits. In first General Elections in 1951-52, 28% or 344 out of 1217 candidates from national parties lost their deposits. This improved in the next elections in 1957 when only 130 out of 919 candidates or 14% candidates lost their deposits. 1977 General Elections witnessed best performance ever by national parties as only 100 out of 1060 candidates (nine percent) from these parties lost their deposits. Comparatively, 2009 General Elections did not prove out to be that good for national parties’ candidates as almost every second candidate lost their deposits. In 2009, 779 out of 1623 candidate from national parties lost their deposits. Worst ever for the national party candidates was the 11th Lok Sabha elections when 49% or 897 out of 1817 candidates lost their deposits.