India as democracy has the multi-party system in place, which means that there are several political parties competing for power. Apart from the primary parties, each state has its own regional political parties that govern and compete in the region. The multi-party structure in India has many political implications. In the event of an election, the norm is that a party with a majority vote wins an election. In order to form a government, however, a party should have a certain number of votes. It doesn’t have to happen, leading to problems. Accordingly, the majority party had to join hands with the regional party in order to form the government. That is where the value of smaller regional parties comes into play.
The condition relates not only to the centre but also to the politics of the state. If a party cannot gain the requisite number of seats, a coalition is the only option. This may mean two regional parties joining hands to form a government (an unlikely event) or majority parties joining hands with regional parties that support them.
India has a multi-party structure in operation. Currently, there are only six national political parties and 30 regional parties participating in both central and state policy. Earlier, the regional parties were unable to play a major role in the Center due to the supremacy of a single party, i.e. the Congress Party.
The advent of regional parties has of late presented the most strong threat to the One Party Dominated Structure of India. Regional parties have been emerging since 1967 with a greater electoral appeal to dominate most state politics. They emerged as a dominant force and played a critical role in the Centre’s formation of governments. Some parties, however, such as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, were also established before the country gained independence in 1947. But most of the other parties came into existence after the country had achieved freedom.
The birth of regionalism in politics began with the DMK in Tamil Nadu in 1967. The Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu occupied the entire region. Many regional parties, such as the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Janata Dal, the Telugu Desam Party, etc., were born after seeing the success in Tamil Nadu.
Now, one question which we should consider while talking about regional parties in India is whether or not regional parties ensure a better functioning government, which is rather an important one. Regional parties ensure that the needs of the people are not sacrificed on the altar of a greater good. The Teesta River Water Sharing will be an example to highlight this argument. The TMC declined to compromise and minimise the share of Bengal’s water for greater Indo-Bangladesh relations. There is also greater diversity within the Parliament, with one topic creating a multitude of points of view and thereby informing the public in the process. In 2 party states, if 2 parties agree on anything, little research and argumentation are further undertaken, and the voter receives fewer details on the consequences of the proposal (though this is not really an issue, because our 2 national parties still take the opposite view). The growth of the regional parties also leads to ‘rainbow’ coalitions, so-called since, like the rainbow, they are ephemeral and lasts only for a short time. Between ’96 and ’99, there were three general elections, which cost a lot of money. Policy paralysis and delay in decision-making and bills are all the product of coalitions. In response to Pakistani aggression in ’99, India took one week to launch Operation Vijay, which removed Pakistani troops from Indian territory. In times of emergency, coalition coordination can lead to unacceptable delays. At the same time, during times of coalitions, regional parties may serve as a moderating force upon exclusionary national parties. Having regional parties like JD(U) and NC in the NDA in ‘99 is amongst the important reasons the party compromised on its all India cow slaughter ban and the autonomy status of J&K.
The presence of a variety of national, cultural, linguistic, religious and caste groups within Indian society is largely responsible for the origin and growth of regional parties. While regional parties operate within limited areas and seek only limited goals, they have played a significant role both in the state and in national politics. These parties have formed a government in their respective states and have sought to enforce their policies and programmes. Some of the regional parties are also partners in the Center coalition government.
Lastly, there are some drawbacks with having too many regional parties too. Often the species is the spice of life. But if we’re spoiled for options, it’s only going to confuse us. The ideal government should operate in the interests of the people, not build parties to satisfy personal grudges or aspirations. If the elector has too many political parties on the ballot, he or she may end up clicking the button randomly. What is the best way to find out that a candidate or a group is going to work for the good of the people? It is also more daunting to vote for a fairly new party, which has not had the opportunity to demonstrate its intentions.
Get The Connectere directly in your E-mail inbox !
Belonging to Gurgaon, he is currently a student at Kirori Mal College pursuing Economics Hons. Ishaan is a fun loving person, soft at heart and a confident and dedicated soul. You can typically find him working for his endeavours or attending a Model United Nations conference. He likes to keep himself aware about the happenings around the world!