TODAY -

Bickering among allies in era of coalition politics
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: January 18, 2022 -



UNLIKE in the past when single party rule used to be the norm both in the state and at the centre, political allies forming the government seems to be taking a firm root as is evident from almost all the states having governments of like-minded parties and similar combinations led by the BJP heading into its second term in office.

After successive triumphs in the post-independence period till the late 1980s, the Congress party failed to reach the majority mark consequently paving the way for the NDA allies to wrest power albeit briefly when the AB Vajpayee-led coalition government crumbled.

Though the Congress-led UPA regained power, the elections to the Lok Sabha in 2014 did not produce a clear majority subsequently resulting in the NDA allies to take charge under the leadership of incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Regardless of the BJP becoming the first party to have clear majority on its own in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the post-Congress era, since 1989, the saffron party kept faith in its allies to form the NDA-II government, thereby scripting a new chapter in the national politics.

By all accounts, the 2014 elections redefined the nature of the post-Congress polity, as the NDA's victory was not just dramatic but also had the element of shock, especially for the Congress for the grand old party seems to be losing its grip on the national political arena, which used to be its domain.

Even if the first few terms of the coalition era saw uncertainties and political instability, it's an undeniable fact that political actors have adjusted to the new reality.

Unarguably, the two main parties, the Congress and the BJP, managed to bring together two rival coalitions that gave a semblance of discipline to the fluid political competition that the decline of Congress brought about.

As the coalition partners had been shouldering the responsibility thrust upon them to form national governments, there has been a semblance of stability.

Moreover, the coalition era has brought to the fore the crucial role of state or regional level parties with their vote and seat shares, thereby making the states the critical theatres where much of the political drama get actually scripted.

Rise of the regional parties in some states which have large seat-share in the parliament also ensured effective curb on the tendency of a single party rule to cause more harm than good from the national perspective.

For instance, the Emergency under Congress rule and the huge dissent over a stew of policies of the NDA government such as demonetisation, weak implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the breakdown of institutions, and a frayed social fabric show why strong and big decisions are problematic.

Contrary to the general vibe over the new era of coalition governments, the state's political scenario in the run-up to the assembly elections is being dominated by mudslinging between allies - BJP and NPP, to be specific, with both trying to demean one another after almost five years of sharing power.

Such bickering only corroborates the saying that too many cooks spoil the broth, and fallout of which is worrisome as the people are getting increasingly aware that coalition governments help in curtailing exercise of absolute power by a single party and in checking authoritarianism.



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