Governing the largest democracy in the world isn’t a simple task. The role of the legislature in governing this democracy is more inclusive than the other pillars of democracy as it empowers the common man. Under the first part of the elections, based on their past performance, political parties are to be voted to power. Coalition politics made its appearance in 1989 and since then it is dominating Indian politics. It provides for better representation of the regional aspirations at the national level but increasingly used as a tool to hold the stability of the central government at ransom over a variety of local and regional issues. The upcoming general elections would be an acid test for the coalition system of government. In the recent past, the coalition system has been exploited in the worst manner possible where the only motto of the ruling party seemed to be staying in power and for their supporters, their personal agenda. In these circumstances, the current political scenario seems to be uncertain.
The opposition NDA that gave a stable government previously is, at present, in troubled waters. The performance of NDA in the recent past has not been heartening. Despite winning Karnataka and forming a successful BJP government in the south, the defeat in Rajasthan is a definite loss. The development story of Gujarat is undeniable and promising a similar model for the country is very much on the cards. In spite of these credits, the recent move by BJD to end the 11 year old successful alliance in Orissa is a telling blow. The BJD might cite various reasons for parting ways but the very fact that the move coming 2 months prior to the general elections makes the political reasons quite evident. The BJP may continue to claim that they have been backstabbed but clearly it has handicapped NDA and has opened up a lot many possibilities. The ruling state government in the of Karnataka has also come under considerable criticism in the recent past, over various issues.
Though reports claim that the anti-incumbency factor may not adversely affect the UPA, given the development agenda they are likely to highlight in the campaign, the coalition arithmetic is not going to be easy for them either. The ruling coalition in TamilNadu is also under siege over a host of issues ranging from dynasty politics to power cuts and Andhra Pradesh isn’t any better with the Telegana problem in its kitty. Further, the rise of the new political parties in these states would make life difficult of the existing political order and would make the equation more complex. The ruling NCP-Congress coalition would also come under fire over issues of Vidharba and for not acting swift and efficiently in issues relating to the MNS, Shiva Sena and 26/11.
The left backed, non existent third front that suddenly came into the limelight during the vote of confidence over the Indo-US nuclear deal claims to be the alternative to the UPA and NDA. Their prospects aren’t bright either. The position of the Left parties in their traditional strong-holds (Kerala and West Bengal) are nothing but precarious. The recent ouster of the Tata’s from West Bengal and the Nandigram violence has created a blot on their image. The communist parties being the core, centering around which all the disgruntled regional parties could gather and the third front, seemingly a post-poll formation, forming the central government seems to be a proposition that is improbable if not impossible.
Finally, the role of the other states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc are quite unclear as everybody seems to be waiting for the election verdict to take the next step.
The future of India may look bright in terms of the demographic dividend, the affluent middle class, the knowledge capital so on and so forth. But it is equally gloomy too. With 27% of the population struggling for their next meal, the global economic turmoil and the marginalized sections facing the heat, the mismanagement of natural resources, power shortage, the climate change issues affecting the life chances of many, the nation is at the crossroads of development. All these issues are intricately connected to the next government that assumes power and the agenda it follows. Evidently, this cannot be achieved unless the parties move away from divisive vote bank politics and parochial political agendas and concentrate more on the development agenda. Unarguably, this is one of the most crucial elections in the history of free India, one which could very well redefine India’s position in the global stage. A stable government with a strong political will is the need of the hour. It is not certain if the existing coalitions or the likely post poll coalition would extend that stability and address the issues that are of historic importance.