Dr. Rajkumar Singh The last decades and contemporary politico-electoral developments reveal that the way to power in a pluralist society like India lies in the creation of political, regional and social alliances. The vastness and diversity of the country and the enormity and variegated nature of the problems confronting the country will make it unlikely for the emergence of two well-organised parties even in foreseeable future. The Congress and the BJP are the two political parties which have advanced two contradictory but monolithic definitions of the Indian nationhood. They contend that India has existed as a nation since time immemorial. For the Congress, it is a nation on the model of nations in Western Europe, where, as a pattern, nationality and state are coterminous. The Congress conception is the secular version which emerged after the French Revolution, except for the aspect of immemorial existence. For the BJP India is quintessentially Hindu. For them, a nation is first and foremost the culture of its original continuation, in case of India, it is the Hindu religion. In their notion, the secular is both alien and fake. However, the unity of India is not dependent on any one monolithic conception derived from the secular or the Hindutva models of the nation. Both these in different ways have been rejected by an overwhelming majority of Indians in varied regions of the country. Developments, following the 1996 Parliamentary elections, have drastically altered the nature of relations between the Indian nation and the various linguistic – cultural communities, many of which form the constituent states of India. General conditions In the circumstances, it would not be wrong to say that it is natural for India’s plural society to have a multi-party system and coalition government. The term ‘coalition’ is derived from the Latin word ‘coalition’ meaning to grow together. In the political system it implies that some political parties or groups will come together and form alliance or temporary union in order to exercise control over political power. In the Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences Professor A. Ogg defines coalition as a ‘co-operative arrangement under which distinct political parties or at all events members of such parties unite to form a government or Ministry. The formation of coalition government takes place as a sequal to the inability of a single party to command a majority in the legislature. A combination of some political groups or parties is essential to command the majority. These political parties or groups join together to form a government. They do not lose their separate identity. They agree to a common minimum political, economic and social programme and when differences arise, any group or party is free to withdraw from the coalition. The first UPA government of Dr. Manmohan Singh, after long negotiations released Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which spelt out the broad agenda agreed upon between the coalition partners. In India the coalition system of government is the outcome of the failure of the Parliamentary system to satisfy the norms of getting absolute majority of seats in the Lower House to form the government. It is an alliance between two or more hitherto separate or even hostile groups or parties formed in order to carry on the government and share the principal affairs of the state. A coalition government is formed when more than one political party or group comes together on the basis of common understanding or agenda.The immense social plurality in India will, obviously reflect itself in its polity. It is only natural that under these conditions various parties may garner the confidence of sections of this vast social diversity and thus no single party may acquire the requisite majority to form its own government. But such fractured mandates carry with them an important element of ‘checks and balances’ required for the sound functioning of any democracy. For this reason, coalition governments of today should have a common minimum programme of policies to be implemented while in office. Coalition governments all over Western Europe have worked very successfully because of broad-based consensus and the underlying willingness to function together for good governance. But in India’s case the scenario is drastically different and there is no early prospect of durable and effective unity at the national level. The BJP has little or nothing in common with the other political parties-Right, Left or Centre. For good or ill the party is looked upon a fundamentalist organisation wedded to Hindu revivalist policy or Hindutva. In it the question of who is an Indian is determined by the person’s religious denomination. The worth of human beings should be defined in terms of features, abstract and general, such as dignity, respect and concern.
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