COALITION POLITICS IN INDIA: PROSPECTS & PROBLEMS
* Dr. A.K.Pandey
several parties to come together to form a viable government, generally under the premiership of the leader of the largest party involved. In other states, such as the UK, USA and Japan, there are fewer significant political parties and coalitions are rare, as after an election a winning party is able to form an effective government without any help from others. This debate is closely related to issues of voting reform, as countries with some form of proportional representation tend to have more political parties in parliament than those that use a first-past-the-post system, and so are more likely to have coalition governments. India has had coalition governments at the centre as well as in the states since the last two decades. Coalition governments are not a new phenomenon in India. Since 1967, 60 coalition governments have functioned in Indian polity. On an average, these governments lasted for 26 months. However, the communist coalition government in West Bengal has lasted for more than 25 years. In the wake of the decline of Congress Dominance, the fragmentation of the National Party System and the emergence of party systems at the regional level have turned India into a chequered federal chessboard. The past and likely future patterns of coalition governments in India are suggestive of at least three models of power sharing: (a) coalition of more or less equal partners, e.g. the National Front and the United Front, (b) coalition of relatively smaller parties led by a major party, e.g. National Democratic Alliance; and (c) coalition of relatively smaller parties facilitated but not necessarily led by a prime minister from the major party, e.g. the coalition of parties formed in 2004 around the Indian National Congress, avowing secular Indian Nationalism. In a rather short span of over a decade, India has witnessed coalition governments of three major muted hues: (a) middleof-the-road Centrist Congress Minority Government of P.V. Narsimha Rao, going against its Left Centre of reputation, initiated neo-liberal economic reforms in
In general, the term coalition means temporary combination of groups or individuals formed to pursue specific objectives through joint action. The term coalition is most often used in connection with political parties. Coalition governments, which are frequently found in multiparty countries like India, France, Italy, and many other countries of the world, are formed when no single party is strong enough to obtain an electoral majority. The resulting government usually distributes political posts to representatives of all coalition members. A Coalition Government might also be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis, for example during wartime, to give a Government the high degree of perceived political legitimacy. Coalition Governments usually does not appear in countries in which the cabinet is chosen by the executive rather than by a lower house, such as in the United States. However, in semipresidential systems such as France, where the president formally appoints a prime minister but the government itself must still maintain the confidence of the parliament, coalition governments occur quite regularly. Cabinets based on a coalition with majority in parliament, ideally are more stable and long-lived than minority cabinets while the former are prone to internal struggles, they have less reason to fear votes of nonconfidence. Sometimes grand coalitions of two large parties also occur, but these are relatively rare and large parties usually prefer to associate with small ones (though currently the governments of both Israel and Germany include the two largest parties). However, if none of the larger parties can receive enough votes to form their preferred coalition, a...