Trends in Indian Election Politics
It has been quite a long time since the coalition politics, backed by a fragmented electorate,has descended in the political scene in India and political alliances to gain power have been the order of the day. Political parties with different colours and hues devise different strategies to lure the voters and align with other political parties across regional affiliations. Here are some of the general observations about the new age political scenario in India:
1) Accept it or not INC (Indian National Congress) and BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) are the only two truely national parties. Dont go into definitions. Others small national parties and state parties align with these two political parties to gain power in State Assembly and the Lok Sabha. Although few political parties like CPI and CPI(M) are trying to build athird alternative, called Third Front, for some time. But it has met a limited success as far as bringing different regional political parties under one umbrella.
2) National parties are getting weaker day by day and the regional and state parties are becoming stronger. It can be easily concluded by the fact that two biggest national parties only come to form government when the regional and state parties support them with required simple majority arithmatic.
3) There is a much competition among all political parties to forge pre poll alliances in the wake of forthcoming general elections. But as far as the profits and losses of these alliances are concerned different parties are at different angle of the recieving end. National parties expose weaknesses and unpopularity in the states when they go and bargain seat sharing with the state parties. The electorate is slowly shifting towards the regional and state parties in the long term. See the recent case when the long standing alliance between BJD and BJP fell flat for the want to bigger pie of the Lok Sabha seats.
4) State elections are fought on the grounds of performance of the sitting government and the anti-incumbency rules is not always followed. The third term of Congress government in Delhi is just one example. Incumbent governments in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh came into power for second time.Yes this is again debatable, but fact remains fact. The economic liberalisation and reform preiod sice last decade has given much needed financial leverage to the states and with their economies the governeance is slowly improving. The incumbent government which passes the fruits of modernisation to its public increases its chances to retain power.
5) The key issues thus are good governance, economic development, basic infrastructure (roads, power, water), job creation amd corruption free administration.
6) The role of identity is ubiquitous in the polity of this nation in both physical and temporal framwork. Caste plays (as always) deciding role in getting the election ticket and getting the vote. Different political parties take due care infielding their candidates and it largely depends uponthe caste and indentity demographics of the constituency. There has been different blocs of forward castes, backward castes, reserved castes and now newly formed block of Economically backward castes (EBCs). Caste factor play a very important role in alliances of different blocs. Muslims form a different bloc of votes.
7) Rise of BSP is a new development in the Indian Polity, especially after the last UP elections. It has managed to pull together the forwar cates and the reserved castes to sideline the backwar castes in the state of UP and the strategy has brough immense results for the BSP supremo Ms Mayawati. Now she is all set up to replicate the model in other states where there is a sizable reserved castes population like Maharastra.
New strategies has to be carved out by all the political parties if they want to remain afloat. Voter of 21st century India is more smart than his fore fathers. Some issus like, roti, kapda, makaan has always been the there for every election this counrty has witnessed but the realm of their definitions has changed in the modern liberalised world. The recession hit economy has added its share of challenges for the parties. No matter what part mere politics play in the reuls of the elections but the party which goes to the voters banking upon its past performance and futuristic agenda will have greater chances to be rewarded. By the way, no one can deny the possibility of last minute chaos of post polls alliances, political bargaining and horse tradig among the elected candidates.