Political Science Answer Writing Practice 2018 - Week 11 - Question 3
90 Days Political Science Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 23-Jan-2019
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23-Jan-2019 - Question 1
India has moved from one party dominant system to one party led coalition. Discuss(2017) - 250 words
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The phrase “the one-party dominant system” was originally fashioned by the noted political analyst Rajni Kothari to capture a phenomenon peculiar to electoral politics in India, and to the Congress party in particular. India’s electoral system, wrote Kothari in 1970, approximates neither to the established model of the two-party or multi-party system, nor to that of the one-party system.
For almost two decades after independence, the Congress, which had led the freedom struggle in the country, controlled the central as well as state governments. The domination of the Congress and the lack of a viable opposition in Parliament could have caused concern, as the one-party system did in many Sub-Saharan countries. Kothari, however, rescued Indian democracy from the negative connotation attached to one-party rule in closed and authoritarian systems. He suggested that the Congress was an umbrella party; a coalition of interest groups that often opposed each other within the party. Party decisions were therefore the outcome of a compromise between different and incommensurate views, forged through Intricate processes of mediation and arbitration within the party. The opposition was there, within the party, even if it was not a significant presence in Parliament.
According to Kothari, the features of the one-party dominant system are
(a) an open and competitive party system,
(b) a fractured opposition that cannot provide an alternative to the government, but which can press the government to do certain things, or not do these things, and
(c) a democratic and consensual dominant party
It is well known that since the 1920s the Congress brought together a number of interest and identity groups to forge a broad coalition. The party leadership was however dependent upon a network of “big men”, large landowners, the middle peasants, industrialists, professional classes, caste and religious communities, women and youth organisations, workers and peasants. This network of big men, who exerted both material and symbolic power, mediated the relationship between the Congress leaders and the rank and file of the party on the one hand, and competing points of view on the other.
Since 1989, sets of coalitions and minority governments in New Delhi is an important aspect of the paradigmatic shifts in the Indian political system in terms of political federalization and economic liberalization in the 1990’s. The coalition and minority governments at the Centre appeared after a long spell of Congress dominance until 1989. Although coalition governments at the Centre formally began in 1989 and have continued since, but the Janata Party (1977-79) in power at New Delhi also was a de facto coalition. The decade (1989-99) featured a series of unstable coalitions and minority governments, following each other like a game of musical chair. In India, the coalitions and minority governments are the outcome of the failure of the parliamentary system to satisfy the norms of getting absolute majority of seats in the Lower House (Lok Sabha) to form government. Since 1989, no single party has succeeded in winning comfortable majority in the House except in 2014 Parliamentary Elections when the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) could secure 282 seats. In 2014 elections, BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) claimed a historic victory when it secured 336 seats (including 282 of the BJP.)
Political coalitions, being compulsions of power-sharing and political accommodation need to be seen as emergence of a new level of political consciousness and maturity of Judgment, on the part of the voters. Instead of treating coalitions as a path towards political instability, they have to be seen as a sign of the electorates’ dissatisfaction with the dominant role of one single party leading to dissents, protests and extremism. It is a symbol of the voters’ maturity if they prefer political accommodation and power-sharing on the part of political parties, rejecting rigid postures and unitarian forces .Coalition government consisting of two or more political parties to serve the government signifies the fulfilment of these conditions