Millennium Post

Changing makeup of Indian politics

History repeats itself and this proves true in the wake of recent changes in India’s political landscape, in its party system especially after their recent electoral performances in the parliamentary and state assembly elections. India’s political party system which was even termed as the ‘Congress System’ due to once Congress party’s dominant position in both the centre and states, is once again moving forward in same direction; albeit with some changes. This time the dominant position of the Congress has been replaced by the BJP and that also at a time when the regional political parties and coalition governments have become an essential feature of Indian political system.

Over the period of time in many states regional players have emerged as a compelling political force which rules the hearts of the people and even challenge the national political parties in their home states. From Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala and from Maharashtra to Orissa regional political parties grabbed the regional sentiments, mobilised people on different regional and sometimes even parochial issues, ensures local solution to most of their problems, and seized power either solely or in a coalition.

All these happenings in the past have transformed India and it’ll be genuinely recognized as a multiparty parliamentary democracy, which gives representation and strength to its diverse population and which is supposed to strengthen democracy to its roots.          

After the recent parliamentary elections, a number of unusual alterations became visible in India’s political party system and future political scenarios. After a thumping majority of the BJP in the general elections, the regional political parties of different states, except a few chosen ones, probably received the biggest jolt in their electoral journey.

A number of mighty state political parties performed badly and only TMC, AIDMK and BJD were able to regain their electoral basting while many of their compatriots were defeated in their home grounds. Political pundits and defeated rivals rejects the ‘Modi Wave’ and rather dubbed it as an offshoot effect of an anti-incumbency wave at the centre and due to political vacuum which might have been created in the absence of lack of credible leadership and effective governance.

Shockingly, even the regional political parties, some of whom were its own long term allies, have also blamed Congress for their electoral tragedy.

They have gained some hope after the initial success in some of state’s by-election results; but again their dreams get shattered after the recent assembly election results of Maharashtra and Haryana. Regional political heavyweights like the Shiv Sena and the Indian National Lok Dal, that were breathing on hopes of a massive come back must have been disappointed by the Modi Magic, and even failed to exploit the opportunity of huge anti-incumbency in their respective states.    

BJP’s strategy in terms of different states seems to focus on two key goals: firstly, trying to build and consolidate their image as a single dominant force within the state and secondly, even if they have to contest elections or form government with coalition partners, the balance of power should always remain in favour of the BJP. All the assembly elections in the recent past can be analysed from that perspective. Further, the party has a focused approach to tighten their grip, strengthen their position and improve their seat tally in every state where they’re already in power.

The topmost agenda of Amit Shah is to concentrate on different other states where as such BJP has never performed and only has a symbolic presence such as Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Orissa. If BJP was able to break that barrier, it’ll herald one the biggest political change after India’s independence which can fuel radical changes in India’s political party system.       

Somehow, all these recent changes gives a strong enough indication that India is heading towards a one party dominant political system where regional political parties will either remain in opposition or will have to compromise with their position as a subsidiary alliance partner.

The saffron surge is largely an outcome of two key, although, interrelated factors. The first is the bad governance or say ‘absent government’ and second one is the comparative leadership edge of the BJP to all its key political rivals. Contrary to popular experience, after the elections people have further realised that as such there was no comparison between BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and all other contenders from different other political parties, especially the undeclared; but obvious choice of the Congress.

If the BJP, which is emerging as a dominant political force, wants to keep the momentum in the long run it has to build a long term strategy and make itself a more inclusive political outfit, both in terms ideology and support base.

In that sense the party still seems struggling because it still holds the image of a Pro-Hindu party dominated by a strong centralising political figure. In the recently concluded parliamentary elections the party didn’t have a single representative from the Muslim community despite having a clear mandate, where it has emerged as the largest political party with 282 members.

None of its candidates have won the election in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections. It was also an open secret that the old guard of the party have also been side-lined and all the rival ideas against the ‘New Turks’ have been highly disregarded, and even suppressed.

Centrality and authority are two key features of strong decision making; but curbing voices of dissent in the long run would definitely prove counterproductive. The party must evolve itself as an umbrella organisation where everybody will be patiently heard; if not adequately represented or accommodated.
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