The Indian Party System

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The Indian Party System

  1. 1. Lecture 4. The Indian party System 1
  2. 2. Structure of lecture <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Significance of party system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2004 General Election </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 stages of party system development (Yadav) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phase of Congress dominance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Underlying factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘Congress system’ (Kothari) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Congress-Opposition phase </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Underlying factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional decline of Congress Party </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Multi party phase </li></ul>
  3. 3. Importance of parties and voting in India
  4. 4. Results of 14 th National General Election, 2004: seats in Lok Sabha <ul><li>Congress-dominated United Progressive </li></ul><ul><li>Alliance 218 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Indian National Congress 145) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BJP-dominated National Democratic </li></ul><ul><li>Alliance 186 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Bharatiya Janata Party 138) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Left Front 62 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Communist Party Marxist (CPM) 43) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Others including </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 19 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Samajwadi Party (SP) 36 </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. The development of the Indian party system (Yadav 1997) <ul><li>Single party dominance (1947-1967). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress Party dominated nationally and to a large extent at state level. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Congress-opposition system (1967-1993). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress remained the most prominent party at national level but faced serious competition at the state level. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Multi-party system (1993 onwards). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress no longer the pivotal force. Growth of regional parties and coalitional politics. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Single party system (1947-67) <ul><li>Congress dominates national elections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In office continuously </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regularly polls over 40% of the vote and secures over 70% of the seats </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No cohesive opposition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Other parties function as ‘pressure parties’ </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Reasons for early Congress Party dominance <ul><li>Initial advantage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Because based on nationalist movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Seen as representing nation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Able encompass diversity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Existing link with government, ‘ sarkar ’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Giving rise to further advantages.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Able to determine electoral system (FPTP) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Able to develop as ‘catch-all’ party </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. The ‘Congress system’ <ul><li>‘ political competition was internalized and carried on within the Congress. There developed an elaborate system of factions at every level of political and governmental activity, and a system of coordination between the various levels through various ‘faction chains’. Originating on the basis of individual competition between leaders, these factions were then built around a functional network consisting of various social groups and leader-client relationships ….. an intricate structure of conflict, mediation, bargaining, and consensus was developed within the framework of the Congress’ (Kothari 1964: 42). </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond Congress, other political parties operated as /parties of pressure’ </li></ul>
  9. 9. Congress-opposition phase (1967-1993) <ul><li>Congress faced challenge at state level </li></ul><ul><li>Two periods out of office at national level: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1977-1979 (to the Janata coalition) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1989-1991 (to the National Front coalition) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opposition parties stronger, periods of unity </li></ul>
  10. 10. Factors contributing to second phase <ul><li>Increasing economic discontent </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing politicisation of marginal social groups </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges to traditional leadership in Congress </li></ul>
  11. 11. Chronology of key developments <ul><li>1964 Death of Nehru </li></ul><ul><li>1966 Indira Gandhi becomes Congress leader </li></ul><ul><li>1967 Fourth General and state assembly elections. Congress loses control in 8 out of </li></ul><ul><li>16 states </li></ul><ul><li>1969 Split in Congress </li></ul><ul><li>1971 Fifth General Election. Congress’ ‘landslide’ victory </li></ul><ul><li>1975 National Emergency declared </li></ul><ul><li>1977 Sixth General Election. Congress defeated by Janata </li></ul><ul><li>1978 Congress splits again </li></ul><ul><li>1979 Fall of Janata government </li></ul><ul><li>1980 Seventh General Election. Congress (I) (Mrs Gandhi’s wing) wins. </li></ul><ul><li>1984 Mrs Gandhi assassinated. Rajiv Gandhi is new Congress leader. </li></ul><ul><li>Eighth General Election. Congress wins best ever electoral victory. </li></ul><ul><li>1989 Ninth General Election. National Front government formed </li></ul><ul><li>1991 Collapse of second National Front government. Tenth General Election. </li></ul><ul><li>Rajiv assassinated half way through. New Congress leader Narasimha </li></ul><ul><li>Rao. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Institutional decline of Congress through the 1970s and 80s <ul><li>Decline of independent state politicians </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing centralisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Party support constructed from the top-down, not bottom-up as before </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rise of dynasty and personality cult </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personality more important than institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Succession of Indira Gandhi by her son Rajiv Gandhi </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Dynasty and the Congress Party
  14. 14. Multi-party politics, 1993 onwards <ul><li>Congress no longer represents the focal point of electoral competition </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of regional parties </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of new national parties, especially the BJP </li></ul><ul><li>No overall majority in parliament since 1989 </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of Coalitions </li></ul>
  15. 15. To be continued…

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