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Coalition And Power Sustenance Game In Indian Parliamentary Democracy: With Reference To Karnataka Context

The term coalition is derived from Latin word coalition means to go together or to grow together. This means an act of political party that unite some parties to form temporary union or alliance for combined action to capture power.

Coalition government is formed with political alliance of two or more than two political parties with an agreement among allied parties. The alliance and support to prove required majority may be with or without sharing the power. We have so many such cases in the central and state governments. Coalition government is formed when not even a single party gains clear majority in the general elections to either Central or State Governments. Then inevitably two or more than two minority parties will join hands and form government constitutionally.

Coalition may be with or without sharing power, some times it may be pre poll coalition and some other time it may be post poll alliance to prove majority. The objective here is to form government and to avoid immediate re- elections.

A single government is formed by different parties for the joint use of resources and fulfilment of their party�s manifesto through the single government. Parties forget their political ideologies to form coalition.

Elections are the festivals of Parliamentary Democratic system. Parliamentary Democracy is the gradual evolution against absolute Monarchical system in England. The Stuart rulers were the absolute monarchs who denied the liberty and rights of the people. The parliament was not having any powers. The bloodless revolution resulted in strengthening the parliament in England and that is the birth of parliamentary system.

Democracy is the government wherein the sovereign power is vested in people. This Government as Abraham Lincoln says is � Government of the people, by the people and for the people.� India is the largest Parliamentary Democracy in the world. The success and failure of this democracy is depending the on the elections, political parties and political consciousness of the citizens. The problem is of judging the quality of the political consciousness of the people.

In the Encyclopaedia of Social Science , Prof Ogg defines coalition as:
co-operative arrangements under which distinct political parties or at all events members of such parties unite to form the government or ministry. Coalition government is indispensable when there is no clear majority to any single political party contested in general elections. After general elections held to either central parliament or to any state assembly, if there is no clear majority to a single political party then two or more than two political parties join their hands to form government with or without conditions or power sharing.

Eventually the coalition government finds it difficult to maintain support with the allies at times. This has happed frequently in most of the coalition governments. When Vajapayeeji formed government at the centre had to lose confidence within 14 days. No matter how prompt or dedicated the party or person is for public welfare. Karnataka is the best example of failure of coalition for many a times.

Congress was a platform for freedom fighters to organise the activities at the time of National Movement and that helped a lot to bring people from different parts of the country together and to fign collectively. Later on, it turned as a political party in Indian politics. Partition of Hindustan in to India and Pakisthan , Muslim League abstained itself from Indian politics. Then onwards only Congress Party is the single largest political party. Hence general elections since 1951-52 to 1967 to both centre and state assemblies got clear majority as people had no other choice to vote. In the year 1967 the fourth general elections resulted in hung assemblies in some states.

Parliament experienced coalition government for the first time in the year 1977 to 79 when Janatha Party formed coalition government by joining hands with other political parties. Morarji Desai as the Prime Minister, the government last its existence in the mid of 1979. Later on Charan Sing took over the charge as the care taker government. In the year 1990 National Front Government by congress alliance came in to existence and V.P. Singh as the Prime Minister. Then onwards we see -BJP led coalition under the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee completed its 5 years term.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) consisting of separate 13 parties enjoyed the power for two terms from 2004 to 2014. National Democratic Alliance in 2014 came to power with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and completed its term 2014 to 2019. We all have witnessed the 2019 elections in which Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) emerged as single largest majority party. The period from 1967 to 2014 the nation has seen coalitions at the centre which were stable almost except minor irking incidents.

Till 2014 Congress had to struggle to form government at the centre whereas in the 2014 elections again National Democratic Alliance (NDA) formed government with the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi. Analysing all this data of elections since 1967 Congress as largest party has lost its importance due to many reasons.

In most of the states when single dominant Congress could not win elections due to the above reasos and also the emergence of regional political parties. In centre First coalition happened in the year 1977 where as for state assemblies it started from 1967 itself. Being large Parliamentary Democracy of the world , India is limping since many years to upheld the principles of the same. The idiom � New Broom Sweeps Well � best suits to India. If you look back post independence era from 1951 - 52 first general elections till 1967 , India could get clear majority governments and faced no difficulties of tenure completion.

In the later era from 1967 till 2014 central as well as many states are not getting clear majority in the general elections. Coalition is indispensable these days. But the emergence of new political parties both at national and regional levels provided people choices. Result of it is hung parliament or assembly. Many reasons can be mentioned for the coalition governments formations in the Indian context.

Emergence of regional and national political parties, increased role of regional political parties, Lack of Political awareness among, Influence of Religion and caste in politics, personal rivalry or grudge of the politicians, national crisis, economic inflation, Indo China war and defeat, death of Nehru weakened Congress party. Until 1967 Congress was the only dominant party to win clear majority and form government both at centre and the states in India. But people found other parties as choice for the congress. Vibrant political behaviour of the then congress leader made congress to survive in the midst of anti-congress waves.

Karnataka is the best example for short lived coalitions. The politics of MAGIC NUMBER and the BLAME GAME we find the vital highlights of Karnataka coalition politics. Maharashtra, Haryana also have had coalition. In 2019 elections for Maharashtra clear mandate was not given to any single party.

Hence National Congress, Congress and Shiv Serna formed government after a month long drama of power sharing politics. If you look at Karnataka�s politics unfortunately people are not able to get stable and efficient government. The alliances are almost made among Janatha Dal (S) ( JDS ) and Bharathiya Janatha Party or between Janatha Dal (S) and Congress.

These are short lived coalitions due to breach of agreement between two political parties. Janardhan Reddy, BJP leader in the year 2008 tried to secure support of other party MLAs bypassing �Anti- Defection Law� and that act was coined as Operation Kamala . It is a kind of trading or purchasing the members of Legislative Assembly to get support to meet the magic number. Coalition changed its alliance twice even while Congress JDS formed the government with an agreement of 50 � 50 power sharing. JDS did not keep words and withdrew support and obviously government dissolved.

Later JDS made an alliance with BJP again with same terms of power sharing 50 -50. But once again JDS came out of the alliance after enjoying the power. The premature elections held to Karnataka. The point here is coalition sustenance depends on the moral binding on the parties within the alliance.

After 2006 elections JDS had to face toughest time when it made an alliance with congress and two independent candidates recently. BJP did not get clear mandate. Immediately after the general elections Congress declared unconditional support to JDS and agreed to make Kumara Swamy, chief of JDS to be the Chief Minister. But the power thirsty among many congress MLAs and independent members led to the dissolution of the coalition in 2019. 17 MLAs from coalition resigned and created legal issues. The by- elections now held will decide the fait of BJP to form full pledged government.

Advantages of Coalition Governments
When there is no clear majority to form the government for any political party, then the government is to be dissolved and fresh elections to be held. But if coalition is accepted by the political parties then it saves time, public money. Coalition prevents the dictatorial nature of single party government. Consent of the allied parties is necessary for any policy decisions of the government.

Then biased administration will be definitely avoided. It provides representation for all partner parties and that might include all sections of the people. Eventually it results in good administration. Single party dominance will be curtailed with the forming of coalition government. During national crisis and the difficulties coalition is the best option so that serious problems like war, economic crisis can be tackled. When you look at the coalition formed at the centre from 1977 till 2014 is the evidence of completing the tenure.

This helps in saving public money. If no clear majority you need to go for fresh elections which need to spend a lot of public money for arranging, conducting elections and declaring results after counting need deploying security and government personnel, logistics arrangements, training, and smooth conducting of elections. After that safely protecting the ballet boxes , counting and declaring the results. The whole process needs not just money but the valuable time investment as well. That will definitely paralyze the administration. Elections are the means and not the ends for Democracy.

Regional parties will get representation because of coalition. Single party dominance will be curtailed when there are two or more than two parties to question. When there is no reach of magic number opportunity for the regional parties and independent candidates will be open. Combination of many parties in the formation government is the representation of the real will of the people. In a coalition government one can expect democracy alive with decision making, policy formation.

Parties with different background will not allow single party to decide by considering the minority will. After forming the government every allied party tries to fulfil the manifesto of its own. Amalgamation of different manifestos results in representation of the aspirations of different sections of people. Nation experiences good administration without much political rivalry. The parties tries to compromise with other party / parties for the sake of power.

In Indian case we find the central coalitions, except 14 days Vajapayee government failure , have successfully completed the tenure of office. But in case of states almost the states have suffered. Karnataka especially is the victim of the system with which people are suffering with short lived government and frequent elections. Good governance is a mirage for Karnataka.

The major drawback of coalition is its uncertainty. The allied parties may withdraw support at any time when they find difference of opinion on any political or administrative issues. Ideological difference is another cause of failure of the coalition. In most cases in India coalition has been unsuccessful due to many such reasons. If coalition fails to continue- no- confidence motion is the choice for the government. If fails to prove majority in the house, the government has to quit power.

Coalition becomes unethical when it is alliance between of diverse ideologies. Compromise among the parties for power means the party is not living up to its ideology. Diverse ideologies and amalgamation of the manifestos of different parties will not help in smooth administration. Differences of opinion delays in policy formation, decision making. One party�s right decision may not be right for another party.

That leads to instability of the government. While sharing power also differences arises. Actual well being of the people is not the concern for the allied parties. Life of such coalition governments will be obviously short and that will result in dissolution of the government. Appeasement policies will be made instead of development policies. Here the government has to live at the mercy of the allies.

Time-consuming decision-making process does not allow for good governance. If at all the coalition is formed by regional parties the national interest will be definitely ignored due to regional consideration. There two things may happen in any coalition. One is the allied parties will compromise to that extent so that they can get the benefit of retaining power, getting financial benefit, organising party.

The second one is � the allied parties will not support for governance and non- cooperate with each other . This shortens the life of the coalition government. The power sustainability is the main game in coalition government. The major party in power obviously tries to please the other supporting parties and play the game so that it can sustain ppower.

Karnataka is the best example of power sustainability politics and utter failure with coalition government. Recently no single party emerged as majority party in the October 2019 elections held for states of Maharashtra and Haryana. Parties joined hands to form the government. It took almost a month to come to conclusion to form coalition in Maharashtra. Political game played by the parties is only for the greed of power but no where you find the concern for the good governance.

Karnataka example proves the horse trade of the greedy MLAs. Anti - defection law also could not do anything to prevent the people�s representative from jumping from one to other political party. Every problem has a solution and also the politicians make misuse of some loopholes of existing laws and get benefited by that.

Since two tenures Karnataka has no stable government. With all the evidences of happenings in the Karnataka politics it is clear that power is the ultimate concern instead of public welfare. Parties considered to make use of opportunity created by the hung assembly but the regional party took benefit of it by playing with two national major political parties BJP and Congress.

Even after that 2018 elections also did not result in clear majority to any single party. The farsightedness of politicians in Congress Party lead to coalition with JDS and this happened even before the declaration of results from all constituencies. Due to greed for power Congress senior politicians also compromised with the situation and sacrificed power to JDS so that they could join hands with Congress immediately so that largest but not clear majority party should not form government by making alliance with independents and also by attracting few from JDS or Congress . With this Congress and JDS remained safe from the horse trade of their MLAs and also could grab power.

The game played by both these parties did not contribute anything for the good governance. But the main problem raised when intolerance in both the parties reached highest peak, could not survive.

The purpose of holding elections and electing the people�s representatives is to form government which is for the sake of better life of people and not to satisfy the greedy politicians. The real fact of birth state, government and political parties- has been faded away. A political turmoil created by the uncertainty and the blame game of the politicians made coalition as short lived in Karnataka and most of the states in India. Karnataka is being cursed to have only hung assembly and short lived coalitions.

Coalition cannot be clear mandate by the people. The minority party may take undue advantage of the situation and may play the role of �king maker�. In such cases the power sharing will be against the will of the people. In case of Karnataka coalition formed between Congress and JDS with the help of two independent candidates lived for very short period due to non- co-operation of the supports from both major parties Congress and JDS.

From both these parties 15 and 2 independent candidates resigned tot eh coalition government. The worst thing of the then politics was horse trade. Karnataka is the champion of short- lived coalition and for the formation of such government almost Congress, BJP and JDS involved in horse trade and �Resort Politics�- and this is another heinous activity found to keep all their MLAs safe from the other parties.

We are not finding the dedicated statesmen in today�s politics. Disgusting fact is the purpose of gaining power has become a personal agenda and not for the sake of state or nation. Till today Karnataka is facing the dilemma of government formation forget about the government and the administration. We can not expect good governance by the political parties in such situations because they always have to worry about retaining the confidence of the allied parties and independent candidates.

Such power sustenance politics is not healthy development for a state or nation. If you take Maharashtra example it took nearly about a month to decide with whom the hands are to be joined. We have to see the life of that coalition also because NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena are having diverse ideologies. Compromise for policy formation is expected to maximum extent which won�t be possible among such coalitions. With observation of coalition in India we can say about 90% the coalition at Centre were successful whereas at states it has been unsuccessful.

Elections are the base for Parliamentary Democracy. In addition to that India has Multi - Party system. Obviously, the votes will be divided among different parties. Indian politics is influenced by many factors like religion and caste. Hence any kind of political awareness will not eliminate the deep rooted casteism and communalism.

Coalitions are inevitable for India. Present BJP government at centre is full pledged and is due to the election manifesto and the political strategies of the party through which the party has become successful to convey the people that they are doing good to the nation. If the same mind set is continued for more time no doubt the centre will get full pledged government further for some more time.

But the states are almost suffering by the short- lived governments. Either two party system or the presidential form of government will be the solution for to avoid coalitions. For which constitutional amendment is required. If at all the same parliamentary is to be continued then only way out is two party system.

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  3. Akter Nassema, Coalition Government with Special Focus, Paragon Books, First Edition, 2016, P.No. 321
  4. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Divided We Stand : Indian ini a time of coalition, Sage India, First Edition, 2007, P.No. 123
  5. Wolfgang C. Muller and Kare Storm, Coalition Governments of Western Europe, Oxford University Press, 2000, P.No.42,44.
  6. David Laws, Coalition The Inside Story of the Conservative- Liberal Democrat Coalition Government, Kindle Edition, Bite Back Publishing, 2016, P.No 1021, 156, 255, 421.
  8. Beach M. , The Ideology of the Coalition; More Liberal than Conservative, Palgrave McMillan, London, 2015.
  9. Buckler S. and Dolowitz D. , Ideology Matters: Party Competition, Ideological Positioning and the Case of the Conservative Party under David Cameroon, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14, 556, 598.
  10. Saba Naqvi, Politics of Jugad : The Coalition Hand Book, Kindle Edition, Rupa Publications, 2019, P.No. 46,98
  11. N. Jose Chander, Coalition Politics: The Indian Experience, Concept Publishing Company, India, 2004. P.No. 24,86.
  12. Mahendra Prasad Singh and Anil Mishra, Coalition Politics in India, Problems and Prospects, Manohar, India, 2004, PNo. 33,47.
  13. Mahendra Prasad Singh and Rekha Saxena, India�s Political System: Perspectives on Party System, Kalinga publications, India, 1996, 321,390.
  14. E. Sridharan (E), � Coalition Politics in India: Selected issues in the Centre and State�, Academic Foundation, India, 2014, 155. 320 P-50,51.
  15. Ramashray Roy and Pau; Wallace,� Indian Politics and the 1998 Election:: Regionalism, Hindutva and state politics. Illustrated Edition, Sage Publications, India, 1999. PP- 58, 93.
  16. Ramashray Roy,� The Uncertain Cerdict: A Study of the 1969 Elections in four Indian States, University of California Press, 1975, 183, 288.

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Prof.Saroja Huggi
    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: MA112685080316-06-521

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