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The Indian Party System
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The Indian Party System

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

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