(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Indian Party System towards Coalition Governance: Need for Introspection R.K. Poonia, P.S. Malik and Saroj Malik

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Indian Party System towards Coalition Governance: Need for Introspection R.K. Poonia, P.S. Malik and Saroj Malik

Major Problem Areas of Coalition Government: Political Instability

The single greatest problem plaguing Indian polity for adecade is political instability in 14 years after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. India has had seven Prime Ministers. However, the Vajpayee Government in its third chance almost completed full term. But all earlier coalitions have been fragile enjoying low longevity. In coalition politics such a government always suffers from a survival instinct. It is just pursuing one point agenda; to somehow remain in power. In such a situation good governance inevitably becomes impossible. This is a highly worrying aspect in the present phase of governance. Regional parties supporting government are more interested in their local agenda than the national issues. These unstable governments result in inefficient governance which harms the developmental need of the country in a big way. A poor country struggling for faster development, can hardly afford costly premature elections. The last Lok Sabha election cost the exchequer more than 5,000 crore and many times more that amount was spent by political parties and individuals. All this money ultimately comes from people’s pocket in the form of tax and price rise.

Typical Irresponsible Opposition

Extreme pluralism results in unprincipled coalition, it lacks a significant responsible opposition or even a typically irresponsible opposition. An opposition is likely to behave in a responsible and constructive manner if it expects that it may have to respond what it has promised.

An opposition is likely to be less responsible the less it expects to govern. Polarised Pluralism results in politics of out bidding, or of over promising which is very different from what is meaningfully called competitive politics. Competitive politics is conditioned by a minimum of fair competition below which a political player can hardly perform. If a party can always light heartedly promise heaven on earth without ever having to respond to, what it promises, this behaviour surely falls below any standard of fair competition. This variety of multi-partism is an unhealthy state of affairs for the body politic. A political system characterised by, centrifugal forces, responsible opposition and unfair competition is hardly a viable system. Immoderate politics is conducive either to sheer paralysis or to a disorderly sequence of ill-calculated reforms that end in failure. Greater the number of parties greater the intricacy of the system. In India a leader can split a Party to, merge a group and support a party without making the slight impact the public opinion. Due to all these political trends in contemporary party system in India, capacity of political parties to harmonies social conflict, and produce collective interest is deteriorating gradually and they are unable to cope with people’s wishes and aspirations.

Increasing Number of Criminals in Policies

In the early years of Parliamentary democracy, politics was considered a passion entailing sacrifice and suffering. With tile deterioration of the system, criminals have been fielded in elections by almost all parties. Increasing incidence of poll related violence speaks of the ground realities of our parties. All political parties began more or less mobilizing such anti-social elements to win the election. Earlier the criminals preferred acting in the background and were content to support the politicians. Now, they declare before national media that they would go to any extent to support their masters. The nexus between crime and politics is well entrenched now. The country-side is brimming with gun carrying criminals, trotting as politicians. No surprise in the eleventh Lok Sabha, at least 40 MPs had confirmed criminal records. According to the Election Commission record, 1,500 crime tainted candidates contested in 1996 elections. The picture in State assemblies is more gloomy.

Proliferation of Parties

Coalition politics is associated with proliferation of political parties in India. India has seven national, 33 state level and 612 registered unrecognised parties. Vajpayee headed 24 parties coalition at Centre. Among the easiest accomplishments in India is to form a political party, the moment a politician discovers that his self-interest is not being served, he quickly floats a new outfit, taking full advantage of the caste, lobbies and other parochial affiliations. Even a party having one seat in the Lok Sabha is seen to claim a ministership in a coalition government. Recently all five independents were given ministerial positions in Jharkhand where government formation was not possible without the support of independents. With a plethora of parties in existence and their ever shifting alliances and loyalties it is not likely to ensure true governance. In the present scenario regional parties, factions and independents all play a major role in forming governments. Political game of horse trading/bargaining breaks all limits. The political tragedies in Goa, Jharkhand and Bihar assemblies are eye opener for all. It is not considered a healthy trend for Indian politics. A developing nation cannot afford such a trend for long time as it severely effects good governance. The present political behaviour is deeply characterised by cynical opportunism, unprincipled toppling games, pursuit of power, etc. Many political parties in India cease to be parties in the real sense. These are indeed political groups headed by ambitious individuals who have gained power through political maneuverability. There is a crisis of character and values. Among the most disturbing feature of Indian democracy is the rapidly decaying system of political parties. The highly deplorable fall in the caliber and standard of the politicians apart, the political parties themselves are showing signs of gross indiscipline and a lack of proper and effective organisational set up. What is even more unfortunate, these parties are breaking apart through factionalism splits and groupism. Had the break up and the consequent proliferation or political parties been on the basis of principles anti programmes there would not have been much to deplore. Selfish leadership and blind followers facilitate the formation of parties/groups and these may indulge in blackmail or otherwise start bargaining for certain ends.

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