Monday, July 14, 2008
DIVIDED WE STAND: INDIA IN A TIME OF COALITIONS by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta & Shankar Raghuraman, Sage, 2007.
As the UPA Government at the Centre struggles to survive in power, with the vote of confidence in Lok Sabha scheduled on July 22, there will be sufficient interest on the stability of coalition Governments. In this book, the authors assert that ideological affinity is the best guarantor of the longevity of alliances, whatever the CMP may or may not promise. Coalitions, they claim, can make a major contribution to deepening and strengthening Indian democracy: If they have arisen because large sections of the people of India felt excluded from the process of development, they will survive only if they are able to reverse that exclusion. The authors find that how much political instability- or how little – is desirable for the progress of economic reforms is a very difficult question to answer. In 2004, the BJP and the Congress together barely managed to cross the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha. In the next election, the authors assert it will not be surprising if they together fail to reach the half-way mark. This only shows that the next Lok Sabha will be more fractured than the 14th Lok Sabha, and political stability will continue to be elusive.