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May 28, 2018

May 28, 2018 @ 10:43 AM

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Opportunistic Coalition Governments are insult to mandate

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The recent elections have once again exposed an unflattering picture of the Indian politics, as two parties that did not win the mandate of the people of the state joined hands to stake claim while the single largest party that had the mandate lost out by merely a few seats. This has not happened for the first time and will not be the last. The political system that India has provides a fertile ground for parties to stitch together coalitions to further their selfish interests, without being concerned about the mandate too much.

 

Flawed system

 

Unlike US, which has Republicans and Democrats as the two main political divisions, India has a multi –party system. Though such a system allows for greater representation of the people in the legislature and the parliament, it often creates the problem of a fractured mandate, where the votes of the electorate get distributed among the several parties that contest a particular elections. In this kind of scenario, the smaller parties reach an understanding with bigger national parties that serve their selfish goals. As the national parties fall short of the majority mark, they have to rely on regional parties to form the government and in return, end up compromising on ministerial posts and other perks.

 

Coalition Era

 

For a long time in India, Congress ruled the country as the only party in the country with a national presence. Thanks to leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Congress dominated the Indian polity for several years. Around 1989-1990s, the coalition era began to take roots in India. The first non- Congress government headed by Morarji Desai and Janata Party was a coalition. Since 1989, India has seen a lot of coalition governments and minority governments, with only the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA completing its five year term from 1999-2004.

 

All about stability

 

Since 1989, no single party has been able to form the government at the Centre on its own, until 2014, when BJP got a clear mandate. The Governors at the State level, and the President at the Centre are bound to give a chance to the party or coalition they feel can provide stable governments and can last their term. This may mean parties (in a pre-poll coalition or a post- poll alliance), who do not have the mandate, are called to form the government. For instance, in Goa elections of 2017, BJP was the second largest party but it managed to form the government with the support of regional parties like GFP, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak and independents. The same thing happened in Karnataka elections of 2018 with the Congress combining with JDS to form the government.

 

Problem with Coalition

 

The real problem with a coalition is that it has to satisfy the demands of each coalition partner, and in doing so, can end up compromising with the interests of the country and the public. The pulls in a coalition delays decision-making and affects the functioning of the government, as seen during the reign of UPA I. Sometimes, a coalition can lead to the downfall of a government, the most famous example being of the NDA government that lost the Trust Vote by just 1 vote.

 

Equal Representation

 

However, a coalition ensures that there is representation of interests of various groups and communities, instead of the majority interest being pushed forward. A coalition works toward keeping the government on track and fulfil the Common Minimum Programme.

Coalition governments are opportunistic indeed, but in a democracy numbers decide who forms the government. This may seem as an insult to the mandate but a democracy absorbs this as well.

 

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