The fractious world of Indian Politics

In May of last year the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to win a majority of seats in India’s Lok Sabha, a feat which previously happened back in 1984. However, it won only 31% of the popular vote and with in excess of 10 parties making up 544 seats, it can be seen quite quickly how gargantuan and convoluted the world of Indian politics is.

Let’s take the state of Tamil Nadu as an example. It boasts a population in excess of 70 million, yet its legislative assembly contains not even one BJP member. This illustrates how India is not only divided linguistically, but politically. Regional parties such as the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party and the Biju Janata Dal have consistently performed well in legislative elections and are both currently ruling parties for their respective states. Only the Indian National Congress can truly claim to have once had a Pan-Indian influence, and now their influence is very much waning.

Is all of this this a recent phenomenon? 

No, and in the past it has been far, far, worse. 1996-1998 saw the rise and fall of two Governments resulting in the appointment of a 3ʳᵈ  Prime minister in two years. Subsequently an agreement was finally reached, only for that too collapse after a coalition party withdrew its support. This then meant another election had to take place in 1999. While no single party managed to acquire a majority of seats, a BJP led coalition ran relatively smoothly (for Indian standards) during its five year tenure.

Why is this happening?  Democracy is both a blessing and curse for a variety of reasons. It’s a blessing because only the mandate of the people can dictate who gets elected. Power is given to the people to decide who they want. However, disagreements between parties when a coalition is power inhibits the power of Government, especially with a country as populous as India.

Speaking of which, State government is simply confusing on structural level. Seven states have bicameral (consisting of two separate assemblies/houses) legislatures, while the remainder have unicameral legislature. Common sense would dictate having a uniform legislature for all states and union territories. Few other nations have such uselessly bizarre irregularities, so this is a place to start when it comes to ironing out discrepancies in the Indian political system. Corruption is also rife nationwide and abroad, with a estimated $1.4 trillion in ‘black money’, apparently more than the rest of the world’s black money combined. All of these factors together make India the infamously slow bureaucracy it is known for being.

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