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Coalition Government: Essential for the Health of Democracy in India at Central Level

India has had a history of governments formed by coalition, although not many survived a full term.

Photo Source: Freedom Massachusetts

The very first thing that we need to understand is ‘what is a coalition government’. In a parliamentary system, a coalition government is formed when different parties cooperate and negotiate to work together. This coalition helps in reducing the dominance of one party in the government. In a coalition government, members from all the parties are appointed in the cabinet.

In India, elections are mostly fought on false promises and manifesto. If promises are lucrative, there is a chance of winning election by the party with complete majority. But what if any single political party wins election at central level with complete majority and that party back track on its promises, certainly they will not have to face any repercussion for the next five years. This is where, importance of government whose foundation has been laid by some or few political parties having different political ideology is important because then there will be fear in the mind of that particular party which has won the maximum seats. They will always be on their toes.

For this, an example can be corroborated from the current government. BJP is currently enjoying kind of an absolute majority in central Govt. Many such financial economical and non- economical decisions have been taken which had the potential of making government crumble had it been a coalition government. Decisions such as, continuous high petrol price, increasing LPG price, reduction in provident fund rate, high inflation in essential items and very recently, the mishandling of migrant workers during lock-down. It is evident from the past that such decisions have led to a failed government or the decisions have been rolled back at the earliest to save the government.

Coalition helps in formulation of more diverse policies by the government. Many a times, coalition government is formed when a National party comes together with small regional parties. While coming up with policies, where regional parties stress on the issues at the regional level, the national parties go for mainstream issues. This can help in introduction of more inclusive policies. A coalition government has more elements of democracy than one dominant party. It gives the small parties a chance to voice their opinion and concerns.

India has had a history of governments formed by coalition, although not many survived a full term. The first coalition government to complete a full term was that of BJP and NDA (National Democratic Alliance) from 1999 to 2004. With Atal B. Vajpayee as Prime Minister, BJP won 182 seats and the regional parties won 158 seats. The next time that a coalition government was formed, it lasted for not one but two successful terms. It was the Congress led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government with Dr. Manmohan Singh as the prime minister.

While there is always a question on the stability of a government in coalition, these terms were able to overcome the issues and formed a stable alliance. The decision-making process in a coalition may take more time because of the disagreements within the party, it is still more favorable than one party doing whatever they seem fit without the fear of any criticism.

India has seen both good and bad coalition governments since independence. While both have their pros and cons, we need a government that has the most democratic approach to issues, in which the current ruling dispensation is falling short of.


The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.

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