Coalition Government in India: Features; History; Growth; Merits And Demerits of Coalition Politics
FEATURES OF COALITION GOVERNMENT:
- Principally coalition governance has two concepts involved. One is ‘common governance’ which is based on a common decision-making process. Other is ‘joint governance’ which is based on the distribution of power.
- Operation of the coalition is not regulated by any legal staff.
- Pragmatism is the hallmark of coalition politics and not ideology.
- The pre-poll coalition is considered fairer and advantageous as electorates get to know about the joint manifesto.
HISTORY OF COALITION GOVERNMENTS:
- It draws its roots from the time of warring states used to ally with each other to defeat a common enemy.
- In independent India, when there was split in Congress party in 1969, the minority government of Indira Gandhi continued with outside support of CPI, DMK and others.
- The first formal coalition was of Janta Party during period 1977 – 1979 which had Congress (O), Bharatiya Jana Sangha, Bhartiya Lok Dal, Socialist party, Congress for Democracy, Charan Shekhar Group and others.
Following are coalition formed at Centre:
1979 – 1980
Janata Party (Secular)
Janata (S) and Congress (U). Congress (I) supported from outside.
1989 – 1990
Janata Dal, TDP, DMK, AGP and Congress (Socialist). BJP and Left parties supported from outside.
1990 – 1991
Janata Dal (Socialist) or Samajwadi Janata Party
Janata Dal (S), Janata Party. Congress (I) supported from outside.
1996 – 1997
Janata Dal, CPI, Congress (T), DMK, TDP, TMC, AGP, SP and others. Congress and CPM supported from outside.
1997 – 1998
Janata Dal, CPI, TMC, SP, DMK, AGP, TDP and others. Congress supported from outside.
1998 – 1999
BJP- led coalition
BJP, AIDMK, BJD, Shiv Sena, Lok Shakti, Arunachal Congress, Samata, Akali Dal, PMK, TRC and others. TDP and Trinamool Congress supported from outside.
1999 - 2004
National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
BJP, JD(U), Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, BJD, LJP, DMK, PMK, INLD, MDMK, National Conference, Akali Dal, RLD, AGP and others.
2004 – 2009
United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
Congress, NCP, DMK, RJD, LJP, PMK and others. CPI and CPM supported from outside.
2009 – 2014
United Progressive Alliance
(UPA - II)
Congress, NCP, DMK, Trinamool Congress, National Conference and others.
2014 – 2019
BJP, LJP, TDP, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, Apna Dal (S) and others. TDP left NDA in 2018.
BJP, Akali Dal, LJP, Shiv Sena and others. Shiv Sena left NDA in November 2019.
REASONS OF GROWTH OF COALITION POLITICS IN INDIA:
- The democratisation of politics as there is growth in regional parties. The regional and caste identities have begun to assert themselves in political space.
- National parties are unable to represent a huge diversity of India. The coalition represents disparate interests more adequately.
- Single party acclaim concentration of power. There is a loss of trust because extreme views and politics are invariably denied to accommodate.
- If we take cognisance of recent incidences in Indian politics, there is moral degeneration of political parties.
MERITS OF COALITION GOVERNMENT:
- It leads to consensus-based politics. It rules out the possibility of majoritarianism.
- It better reflects popular opinion of the electorate within a country. A coalition government is more democratic.
- Cabinet based on a coalition with a majority in parliament is more stable, dynamic and long-lived.
- Government need not go for populistic measures in fear of no-confidence or losing power. It can give more concentration on governance.
- Government policies can be more flexible, and there is more possibility of corrections with enhanced scrutiny.
- In this type of political system, distinct identities are more accommodated, preserved and promoted within the larger political union.
DEMERITS OF COALITION GOVERNMENT:
- Distribution and separation of policy fields make control of Prime Minister difficult over portfolios belonging to coalition partners.
- Decision-making process gets shifted from clear procedure to informal conversations. Separation of power is circumvented in a coalition government.
- Though the political position of party leaders gets strengthened, political organisations get weakened.
- It is basically based on compromises and considerations. This is an arrangement to remain in power. It has a tendency to be fractious and prone to disharmony.
- Parties belonging to contrasting ideologies come together. There is no coherence in government policy. The government can not push its bold decisions because of a lack of a majority.
- It weakens the political efficiency of government. Slower decision-making process threatens the effectiveness of governance.