Whether it is UPA, NDA or third front, exit polls have stated that they will head rag-tag coalitions.
I know most people don’t like coalitions. Coalition is a bad word for many in businesses, as it is unstable in nature with lot of ideological conflicts. Businesses would naturally feel happy with a single party or a coalition of like-minded parties to govern the country.
But I think they are wrong. Coalitions and regional parties are good for India. Though they hinder businesses in short term, they help businesses in long term. And Unlike Shekhar Gupta, I don’t mind or despise such a rag-tag coalition either of the UPA or NDA or the Left.
A single party rule or a coalition of like minded parties is not necessarily good for our country. A country with diverse demographics which has no monolith economy or aspirations is fit to be governed only by a coalition of parties that are not on the same ideological boat. An ideologically similar combine can run this country amok in one direction. It is better to have several push’s and pull’s in a combine while regional aspirations are played to the fore.
The above looks like a recipe for stagnation. Markets will dive down once such a combination comes up. But believe me. This is what is good for the country in the long term. Stock Markets are not the *real* index of development of a country. India needs to get out of the Stock Market Syndrome as soon as possible, if we need to build on the development story.
Regional forces to the fore: Case of South India
The extra-ordinary growth story of India is happening and will continue to happen exactly in synchronous with demolition of Single party system. In the times when Single parties ruled the country, India was called an ‘Elephant’. Our slow growth rate was ridiculed as ‘Hindu’ rate of growth. (not in population). Once the single party got destroyed and various coalitions started happening, India witnessed a tremendous growth not just in IT, but almost in every field, except agriculture.
In India, the basis of Indian Democracy is the federal set-up that has been adequately set up in the constitution by our fore-fathers. This set-up helps to make the power center at Delhi, a mosaic of powers of states and not vice versa.
Till the time a single party ruled the country and the states were simply following the center’s diktat, there was no force in governance. From the time regional forces sprang up in the name of regionalism and caste-ism, the center is becoming a representation of the states and governance became very important.
Today India is truly democratic because Delhi is not decided by L.K. Advani or Sonia Gandhi. It is decided by the leaders of the states and sometimes leaders of few regions.
Till the time Congress was ruling the country, most of the developments were happening in the north of India and very little was flowing south. Uttar Pradesh, Madya Pradesh and Bihar decided the country. Any projects that came stopped in North of India.
Today the situation is totally reverse. The south of India runs the country. And south of India has extremely developed, while north is lagging far behind. So many infrastructure projects and new age businesses were located in the South of India in the last two decades, compared to the previous four decades.
Again north of India is lagging far behind because people of these states have been taken for granted by the National Parties. There was no regional force that could fight only for their interests. There was no TDP, DMK, AIADMK, BJD, SP, BSP or atleast LDF( which is only a regional force) there to fight for their interests.
Regional Parties: Pressure to Perform
It is true that National Parties have a fundamentally well established outlook and are good for us strategically.
But then National Parties have always failed to own responsibilities of the region they represent. If they fail in one region in an election, they try to catch up in another region. A Regional party will have much more at stake and hence will definitely fight for the region.
If National Parties are being returned to power in States, it may be only because there was no better alternative for them. They may be returned to power though they might not have done anything to develop the region because of the TINA factor.
If Regional parties have to return to power, they need to be achieving something for the region. Otherwise they will get dumped. Only when they perform they can win. Regional parties can win few times based on caste combinations. But they will bite the dust or get fragmented after that, if they do not perform. Hence regional parties will be more business friendly than the National parties.
There is always an alternative for a regional party. This is the lesson of RJD in Bihar and SP in UP.
If BSP emerges as a regional force of UP solidly with adequate parliamentary representation and if Mayawati learns the lesson of regional parties by looking at south of India (or even Nitish in Bihar if predictions hold good), I am sure UP will witness massive influx of projects deep into it in the next few years. Mayawati has to show herself off as a regional force fighting for regional development. Whether Mayawati will guide it like that is another question that I can’t answer.
If she tries to compound all the Dalits of all the states and form a Dalit based National party, she may get some votes in some other states, but surely will loose steam in UP itself. And then is sure to go out of currency.
In case of south of India, whether it is DMK, AIADMK or TDP regional parties have definitely helped the region. Even in Karnataka, erstwhile Janata Party/ Janata Dal was a regional force than a national force, which developed Bangalore. Currently a good regional player is absent in Karnataka, given that JD(S) has managed to spoil itself. But it can rebound in future.
We would be witnessing more and more regional forces coming into play in India, for eg. in Assam, Maharashtra, Jharkand etc. And they would be good for India as a whole in the long term, though they might appear as obstacles in the short term.
And so take heart, if a rag-tag coalition is going to govern us for the next few years. India is moving ahead truly democratically.