The Growth of Regional Parties in India

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THE GROWTH OF REGIONAL PARTIES IN INDIA
INTRODUCTION
The 1967 General Elections brought a historic shift in the trajectory of Indian politics. This year saw the end of all omnipotent Congress and announced the arrival of regional parties in the Indian political landscape. It is in this year that Dravida Munnetra Khagazam (DMK) of Tamil Nadu came to power at the state level and challenged the hegemonic dicta of Congress. It won a commanding I38 seats in the Tamil Nadu Assembly and 25 seats from the State in the Lok Sabha. This was yet just a beginning; Indian politics was now to embark on an era of coalition government and the politics of regionalism. Trinamul Congress in West Bengal. Rastriya Janata Dal in Bihar, The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its Left Front Partners in West Bengal, Kerala, and Tripura , TDP in Andhra Pradesh, AGP in Assam, Samajwadi party and BSP in Uttar Pradesh and National Conference and PDP in Jammu & Kashmir are major regional parties today. In fact the presence of regional parties is not surprising in a culturally diverse country such as India. There is no one common man. He is common and identifiable only to a region. The regional political parties are his mouthpiece espousing the cause of their common man. In such circumstances my quest is not merely to describe the manner in which the regional political parties have surfaced as dominant partners in the Indian political culture but also the kind of role that these parties are fulfilling. One of the ways in which the regional parties have impacted the political environment is through the formation of coalition government. This has various implications. The kind of parties that have been accommodated in the national ruling parties, the kind of bargain received, the change in the political strategy, the inclusion of and respect for the representation of the weaker sections, caste politics and the debate between requirement of constitutional federalism and yet weakening democracy are the major concerns that are sought to be addressed. I have argued that regional parties are the touchstones of our federal polity. They are great equalizers and capable of promoting a healthy centre-state relation. However, it is the presence of negative regionalism within these regional parties and the consequent undemocratic underpinnings where the divisive forces operate and the idea of multi-party democracy indulges itself in excessiveness. A SHORT HISTORY OF GROWTH OF REGIONAL PARTIES

After DMK had broken the long 1952-67 spell of Congress rule, other regional parties appeared. In the mid-term election in 1969, Akali Dal emerged as a dominant partner in the coalition government in Punjab. Similarly, the Bharatiya Kranti Dal (BKD) in Uttar Pradesh, Bangla Congress in West Bengal and Swantra Party in Orissa during the 1970’s participated in the coalition government of the respective states. In the 1971 parliamentary elections Congress under the charismatic leadership of Mrs Indira Ghandhi and the popular slogan of “Garibi Hatao” was again restored as the single largest national party in the Country. This however did not mean that the emergence of regional parties could be dismissed as a mere transtitional phase. This year saw the rise of Shiv Sena in Maharastra and Telangana Praja Samiti in Andhra Pradesh which won 10 seats in the Lok Sabha. In 1971 elections Telengana Praja Samiti won 14.4% of the vote with every seat in the Telangana region of the state. In Assam, the All Party Hill Leaders Conference won 10.9% of the vote. In Haryana, the Vishal Haryana Party won 9%. In Orissa the newly formed Utkal Congress won 22.7% and in Uttar Pradesh the B.K.D. edged out Jan Sangh as number two with 12.6% of the vote. In Punjab, the Akali Dal won a magnificient 30.8% of votes. Though the position of individual regional parties declined in parliament, their...
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