Millennium Post

No union in this coalition

During the last six decades of election battles in the country we witnessed many colours of democracy, the largest and the most vibrant in the world.  Till 1967, the fourth general election, there was dominance of one single political party - Congress in the centre and states.  There used to be no instability, alliance, mass defection, coalition government or any alleged misuse of article 356 of the Constitution.  The scenario changed substantially in 1967 after the election results, as the Congress Party could not secure absolute majority in almost all the northern states though it could barely score sufficient numbers to claim an absolute majority in Lok Sabha.  This proved to be a turning point in the governance and also in the work culture.  We still remember strange bed fellows coming together to constitute Samyukta Vidhayak Dal in the states to form a
government.  The political analysts described it as Kahin ka Eint kahin ka roda Bhanumati ne Kunba Joda.  The SVD governments were not at all cohesive and compact, hence crumbled under their own weight.

The first experiment of SVD government was recorded in Uttar Pradesh.  A veteran Congress leader Choudhari Charan Singh  walked away from the party to lead the SVD and to form a government.  His breakaway faction formed Bhartiya Kranti Dal to join hands with other parties like SSP,PSP,Jansangh and Communists.  It was called a Pachranga Achar.  The experiment was repeated in states like Bihar, Panjab, Haryana, Madhy Pradesh, West Bengal etc.  The governments lasted barely for a  few days or months.  The state of Uttar Pradesh made record by becoming the first to have a power sharing between the chief ministers on rotation basis in a coalition government.  This resulted in a longer lasting ill will between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party and their supremos.  It also became evident that the first incumbent Chief Minister never felt comfortable while transferring the baton of power to the promised leader of the other party in the coalition government.

The latest tussle due to so-called agreed formula of rotating chief ministers is being reported from the state of Jharkhand.  The second major coalition partner in the government , Jharkhand Mukti Morcha is since staking claim over the Chief Minister post as the present incumbent belonging to BJP has completed more than two and half year.  The bone of contention is that the BJP is denying of any agreed formula on rotating the highest executive post in the state. The CM Arjun Munda, who took over on 11th Sept 2010 after the elections, has told in plain words that he is not going to give the post on a platter to JMM, whatever result it may have.  On the other side JMM is maneuvering with the third largest party- Congress in the Assembly to secure the highest post. The stalemate still continues. It is yet to be seen which way the fortune would swing in Jharkhand where alliances have been taking unexpected shapes in the past.

The first ever experiment of rotating Chief Ministers was witnessed in Uttar Pradesh during 1995. BSP and SP had jointly contested the assembly election in 1993.  The alliance came to power and SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav became the CM on 4 December 2012.  There was an understanding between the two parties to take turns to nominate their representatives as  CM. The transfer of power was to happen in the middle of the term.  In early June 1995 serious differences had crept between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati which led to the fall of the government, alleged misbehavior and attempt on the life of Myawati in Meerabai State Guest house in Lucknow. Both parties became arch enemies of each other.  The third major party- BJP rescued Mayawati to help her in taking over as CM for the first time in the state.

The southern state of Karnataka during 2004 and 2007 had the sour taste of twenty- 20 political innings.  After the Assembly election N Dharam Singh of the Congress became CM with the support of JDS. The government lasted for only 20 months as JDS withdrew support. JDS President H D Deve Gowda rushed to New Delhi to contact the then PM Vajpayee to garner BJP support to form a coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswami for a tenure of the first 20 months with an agreement to transfer the power to BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa during the last 20-months period.  Kumarwamy was reluctant in handing over the post to BJP.  BJP withdrew the support which made Kumarswamy cajole Yeddy to take over.  Yeddy was sworn in as CM but JDS changed its mind during the vote of confidence in the Assembly.  This proved to be a blessing in disguise to Yeddy in the next Assembly election.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only state where the formula of rotating CMs in a coalition government facilitated a smooth transfer of power between the two partners.   The term of the Assembly in J&K is six year.  During Nov 2002 to July 2008 a coalition of Peoples Democratic Party and Congress ruled the state with rotating CMs.  

Satpal is a communication consultant
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