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Is the Politics of Coalitions over?

A coalition government is formed when two or more political parties enter into an alliance, willingly or unwillingly, compromising upon their respective party's policy and agenda. Numerous countries including Australia, UK, Finland, Indonesia, India etc. have witnessed the formation of coalition government at the centre.

Obviously, no individual thought about coalition when the Government of India started functioning in 1947, with Indian National Congress (INC) as the principle and sole ruling party. The question of forming a coalition government didn't gain momentum until the upcoming of National Democratic Front (Alliance) in 1971. Coalition government in India could only make its mark only in general elections of 1977 for the Lok Sabha, when Moraji Desai was made the Prime Minister.

It is evident to point out here the reasons behind the formation of a coalition government by Lok Dal (LD) at the centre in 1977. It was the wide resentment of the Indians against the ruling party, which led to the shifting of power from the hands of INC to LD. It was also the first time, the largest political party of India, viz. INC, entered into coalition with other parties. The coalition government thus, was by compulsion, not by persuasion, as no one single party could win more than half of the lok sabha seats to form a government at the centre. The arrests and torture to the social reformist and political figures in India during the national emergency extending over nineteen months during Indira Gandhi's regime at centre, led to wide resentment against the INC. The people of India voted for a much needed change in the government and hence, they voted not for a particular party to win, rather, to contravene the ruling of INC. Ever since then, no single political party formed government with majority at the centre. It was only after the general election won by Rajiv Gandhi led UPA, back in 1984, that a single party, viz. BJP, won the lok sabha elections with a majority. However, it is interesting to note that even though, both the parties won the elections with a majority, they formed the government at centre having coalition with other political parties.

The biggest advantage of coalition government at the centre is the proportionate representation of representatives of regional political parties in the lok sabha. This works as an effective tool to ward off undemocratic bills being passed in parliament which does not equilibrate with the agenda's or demands of participating parties. However, it has its own disadvantages as well, it may result in unnecessary discussions upon the passing of a bill in the parliament. This may lead to slowing down of the proceedings in the lower house, hence, delaying the passing and implementation of important bills. Outside support in the coalition is also a matter of concern for the ruling party, for they may withdraw their support anytime. This makes the government fragile, and right policies can't be implemented, which impedes the development process. Often, the ruling party is forced to be in tune with the coalition parties, to safeguard their majority in the government.

Unfortunately, coalition government in India has witnessed more of the disadvantages and has not proved efficacious, because of the lack of rectitude, intentions of the political leaders towards their allotted responsibilities in the government. Unity among the political parties to pool all their resources for the interest of nation has never been perceived. Over the years, political party representatives have worked for the sole interest of their parties rather than working for their nation. Now, there is an exigency for the political parties to inculcate the spirit of working with unity towards the achievement of single goal, from the brilliant functioning of the already existing coalition government in Canada, Finland, Australia and many more.

Coalition government will certainly, never witness doomsday, since with large number of regional political parties coming up every ensuing election, the votes will continue to be divided amongst these based upon communalism, caste, religion, icons etc. Thus it is important for the political parties to quickly adept themselves to the rectitude approach for the interest of the nation. Coalition government would prove to be a great success for the diverse community of India if only the government functions with the right approach towards the benefit of people. All these will only be possible when the political leaders realize that it's a "government of the people, by the people and for the people".

-Animesh Kumar