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Equations and Dynamics

Md Irfan

By Bidyut Chakrabarty
Oxford India Short Introductions, New Delhi, 2014, pp. xxix 213, Rs. 295.00


1990s was the era of great transformation in the history of Indian politics. Since then no single party won a majority in the national polls until and this phase is largely known as the ‘post-Congress era’. Coalition politics is a result of rise of regional parties on agendas of national importance. It is basically a consensus among diverse social groups and communities in the pursuit of common political goals. Coalition Politics in India  by Bidyut Chakrabarty highlights the fact that coalition has been an integral part of Indian politics. It is also reflective of fragmentation of social interests at the grassroots that remain unrepresented (p.2). The post-Nehruvian era was significant in tracing its roots. The 1967 State Assembly election altered India’s political equation, non-Congress voices were rising. A new kind of leadership had developed at the regional level. Thus regional parties emerged as possible alternative to the single-party Congress rule. Chakrabarty’s analysis is to understand the complex nature of India’s coalition experiment. Analysing of the theoretical and historical sources of coalition politics in India, while looking at the possibility of the existence of coalitions and its theoretical positions, he finds two broad classes of coalition theories, first ‘the power maximization motive’ with different political parties coming together to maximize their power and also characterized as ‘opportunistic’. The second deals with the significance of policy based issues where similar ideological forces come together. The historical trajectory of coalitions is traced back to the pre-Independence era where both legacy and the Congress tried to accommodate the diverse and conflicting element of Indian society. Under Nehru’s leadership, India experienced a single party rule. But in the 1967 assembly election, for the first time a non-Congress governments were formed in eight states. In the real sense it was the beginning of coalition politics in India. This chapter also highlights the institutional roots of coalition politics in India. This is followed by a clear and detailed account of growth and decline of coalition politics at the province level. It analyses the State-level experiment of coalition politics. The 1967 assembly election is very relevant for this analysis, when the Congress base was weakened in the regions and different regional parties were united on the basis of distinctly regional interests. It also exemplified a detailed explanation of coalition in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Kerala. This chapter also highlights a new pattern of ...

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