Is coalition era over in India? Well, 'Modi vs Nitish' story will decide that

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India has seen a single-party majority government at the Centre after 25 years. The results of this year's Lok Sabha election have surprised every Indian voter for none could have imagined that the days of coalition politics would be behind us.

But is this a permanent end to the coalition politics in India? Are we back to the days of single-party dominance?

Next 5 years will decide the course of Indian politics

It is difficult to make any prediction on the political future of the nation. For how many would have thought that the once mighty Congress would be reduced to just 44 seats in the Parliament?
The answer to whether India returns to the era of coalition politics is partially hidden in the next five years.

If the Narendra Modi government, which is about to take up the responsibility, steers the nation towards a satisfactory goal till 2019 and repeat its poll performance of 2014, the chances of fragmented mandate regaining relevance will be lesser. But if there is an opposite story (like what had happened to the Indira Gandhi government in 1977 and Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989) then there is every possibility of a reverse consequence.

However, as this author believes, the performance of the Modi government in the next five years can will explain whether India can indeed return to the days of the coalition era.

The performance of the Modi government in the next five years will be challenged by the old school of applied politics in India and the winner of this tussle will determine the future of coalition politics in this country.

The tussle between economic development and social empowerment

To understand this tussle, we can take up the cases of post-May 16 Modi and Nitish Kumar.

Modi and Kumar, once part of the same alliance and considered two of the best chief ministers in the country with their respective models of development, embarked on two contrasting journeys post May 16, 2014.

If Nitish has empowered a Mushahar man, Modi must empower that entire community

While Modi found himself promoted to become the prime minister of the country, Kumar decided to quit the CM's post for his own political game. Modi spoke about taking forward his own legacy of a pro-development administrator while Kumar chose to focus more on his own style of politics, which is characterized by the idea of social empowerment, to ensure that he returns to prominence during the next assembly election in Bihar in 2015.

The contradictory games of Modi and Nitish

Now, the future of coalition politics in India will be decided by the victory of either of the two contradictory styles of Modi and Kumar. Just like the magic he produced in the Lok Sabha election by achieving a kind of electoral homogenization in states like UP and Bihar where the socio-economic forces are extremely complicated, if Modi can repeat the same in terms of economic development, then coalition politics as a negative trait of our democracy can be dealt with decisively.

Nitish politically empowered a Mushahar representative, Modi should economically empower that community

But if it doesn't materialise, then it will be a big boost to the politics of appeasement of the Nitish Kumars and Lalu Prasads in the garb of secularism and they will cash in on the effects of a non-uniform development. Kumar has already made a very backward community leader as the chief minister of Bihar to play his card. It is now the turn of Modi to ensure that the community of Jitan Manjhi, a Mushahar (those who eat rats), gets the share of national development. This way, the advantages of the narrow politics of appeasement can be nullified.

In this way, Modi will have to cater to the needs of the complex socio-economic realities in key states where electoral stakes are high and an approach of overall development, not specific to a community, can bring the desired results for the new regime. One believes somebody has to repeat economically what Amit Shah did politically in a state like UP to get the BJP 71 seats.

BJP must be careful of not going the Congress's way

The Congress had lost the plot in Indian democracy because it didn't prioritise decentralization since the family rule took over and soon the grassroots pillar of the umbrella organization collapsed, allowing regional leaders to cash in on the economic backwardness by calling for social and political empowerment. This pattern gradually led to the strengthening of the coalition politics in India at the expense of a weak Congress system.

Today, the BJP has emerged as an alternative to the Congress that had once propagated inclusivism in the true sense and it has an enormous task in its hand to ensure that the social fault lines are eroded effectively so that the politics of dividing vote-banks meets its end. Democracy definitely signifies empowerment but that empowerment should be economic to begin with so that it doesn't put the nation's stability at peril.

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