After taking people’s mandate in 2004 general election in the midst of cobbling a multi-party alliance against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Congress President Sonia Gandhi had said, “Coalition politics would not last forever and the polity would revert to major political parties.”
Is the coalition dharma of Congress with NCP heading towards the verge of collapse in the coming general election just a year ahead? Allegations and counter-allegations are naturally part of the politics. At the initial stage of attacking each other, it would however be said early for the Congress whether it would contest the next election at its own or jointly with UPA partners or with dejecting old alliance and constituting new pre or post alliance.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s once targeted Congress President Sonia Gandhi whose foreign origin issue had allegedly caused his separation from the party and consequently, on May 25, 1999 with the assistance of P A Sangma and Tariq Anwar formed his own political party under the name of ‘Nationalist Congress Party.
This time in his attempt to create Laxman Rekha between AICC President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, NCP again attacked Sonia by saying ‘not following coalition dharma’ while praised Manmohan Singh ‘for successfully running a coalition government.’
“The government functions according to the coalition dharma but the same is lacking within the UPA,” NCP general secretary and spokesperson D P Triptahi said, however reiterated the NCP has no plans to discontinue with the Congress-led UPA.
Today, in absence of complete mandate to a single party, coalition politics has become the intrinsic nature of modern politics; the coalition and anti-coalition should be the moral responsibility of the political parties. Although coalition chemistry between various political parties are different in States and Centre, but such coalition by avoiding parties’ principles and policy certainly paints a wrong picture upon people’s mind. For instance, NCP, which are in oppose to the BJP at the Centre have made alliance with the ‘non-secular party’ in Meghalaya. Such actions directly or indirectly weaken the cohesiveness of the alliance.
Sometimes alliances are made between two bipolar parties in their common attempt to oust the third party as it happened in 1993 UP state assembly election when these two parties formed alliance to prevent BJP coming into power. Unfortunately, the alliance did not win the majority and Mulayam Singh Yadav could become chief minister of Uttar Pradesh with the support of Congress and Janata Dal.
But, at the time of Centre’s politics in1998 Lok Sabha elections when an alliance between the BSP and Samajwadi Party in the electorally vital state of Uttar Pradesh would have prevented the BJP from coming to power at the centre, could not be carried out. This incident explains coalition theory in the state is a logical strategy, which reveals the fragmented nature of the party system.
About the necessity of coalition politics former Lok Sabha Speaker and the co-founder of NCP, P A Sangma had once said that coalition politics has been the mainstay of today’s politics with people rejecting the single party rule, which gives little weight to regional aspiration.
While strongly advocating for the coalition politics, Sangma told at a seminar on "Coalition politics in India" in 2004 “The main focus of the single party rule was on national and international issues sidelining regional problems.” In a broad sense it seems right. National party overlooks the people’s cause at regional basis, whereas, the regional parties can closely consider over the difficulties of the people of its own region, who are directly responsible to them. The representatives of the region can also effectively convey its demand asserting people’s plight to the leader on top (chief minister), which is no doubt be absent in case of single party rule at the Centre.
While giving a deep look at the present politics, it becomes apparent that the coalition politics is the need of the time. But parties while being a part of the coalition politics must give value to the ‘coalition dharma’ instead of plotting and counter-plotting against its own allies.