To put it simply, a coalition government is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which several parties cooperate. Coalition governments are usually formed as no party can individually achieve a majority in the parliament. However, a coalition government may also be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis. If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken.
India has had coalition governments at the Centre as well as in individual states since the last two decades. Since India is a diverse country with different ethnic, linguistic and religious communities, it also has diverse ideologies. Due to this, the benefit that a coalition has is that it leads to more consensus based politics and reflects the popular opinion of the electorate. The current UPA-Left arrangement had been formed after parliamentary elections in 2004. Though they have main adversaries in three states, this government was still a stable one till Left withdrew support on matters of nuclear deal.
In order to have stable coalitions, it is necessary that political parties moderate their ideologies and programmes. They should be more open to take others’ point of view as well. They must accommodate each other’s interests and concerns. But this is not what is happening in India. In India, parties do not always agree on the correct path for governmental policy. Different parties have different interests and beliefs and it is difficult to sustain a consensus on issues when disagreements arise. They often fail to see eye to eye with the government on many public policies. However, this is not to say that we have never had successful coalitions. Governments in Kerela and West Bengal and NDA at the Centre have been sucessful coalitions. Other coalitions should learn from these because it is difficult to operate in an environment full of disagreements.
The fact of the matter is that India has had coalition governments in the past and it will continue to have in the future as well. Therefore, it is in best interest for all that parties develop a sense of understanding and do not play games of power politics and bad politics. It is high time that the MPs realize how bad India fares on other economic variables in the world, and it is time they put their energy in improving those than just catering to their selfish interests.
If political parties feel that coalitions are too much of a compromise and always lead to unstable governments, then India can think of alternative forms of governmentthe ; presidential system can be one but it has its own cons. It is very important for the political parties to moderate their ideas as there are no ready made formulas or easy solutions to make coalitions work in a smooth manner.
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