Pankaj Sharma/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi
While many countries have graphed stupendous growth on the shoulders of a single or two party system, India has been riding on its success curve despite the emergence of several regional political parties. Though the first four decades after independence were dominated by a single party, later several regional fronts surfaced.
At the time of first Lok Sabha election there were hardly any regional players, but gradually regional parties emerged and pushed themselves into centrestage. Marking their entry into national politics, regional parties gained 34 seats in the very first Lok Sabha election after independence.
Then, till 1989 national parties ruled the country. It was for the first time in the year 1991 that Congress was forced to run a minority government.
For the first time, regional parties had secured 50 seats with about 13 per cent vote percentage in Lok Sabha election. Barring 1998 Lok Sabha elections, regional players continued to increase their vote share and seats.
It is only in the last general elections in 2009 that regional parties lost 14.51 per cent of their vote percentage.
Amongst existing regional parties, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was the only regional party that existed even in the first general election, when it had secured four seats.
Gradually parties from many parts of India emerged which includes big names like – DMK, AIADMK, National Conference, BSP, SP, RJD, JD(U), JD(S) and NCP.
Despite getting lesser votes in comparison to national parties, regional parties have emerged as a big gainer. Starting from 1996 when HD Deve Gowda led National Front government, regional fronts gained big berths with just a small proportion of seats.
In 1997, when Congress formed a minority government while the major party in alliance Congress could only secure seven cabinets berth after garning140 seats in Lok Sabha, Samajwadi Party (SP) and DMK got three and two cabinet berths with just 17 seats each.
This story also repeated in 1999 election when NDA led by Atal Bihari Vajypayee came to power. While biggest party in alliance BJP with 182 seats got 15 cabinet berths, JD (U) led by Sharad Yadav got four cabinet seats in just 20 seats.
Politics of compromise is still being practiced in the present UPA government where DMK and NCP got three and one despite just nine and three seats respectively.
Since independence the base of national parties has been shrinking with regional parties becoming stronger. At the time of the first general election, barring one state Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Congress ruled in each state.
But today the picture is quite different as major party in UPA, Congress is ruling only 11 states independently and three with regional fronts.