The party political domain of India is replete with a large number of parties representing the tapestry of Indian society. Many of them are based in specific regions and states, built around social and linguistic identities. While this enhanced the representative character of the parties, it also contributed to varied patterns of political competition and unstable governments. The two major national parties—the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party—becoming ready and willing to form coalitions heralded an era of coalition governments both at the center and states, enabling parties to increase their power and their pay-offs. Parties across the political spectrum have tended to converge on macroeconomic policy, but continue to diverge on social policies and larger issues that confront India, such as nation-building and secularism. The chronic lack of internal democracy coupled with the rise of political corruption and clientelist practices are matters of serious concern. A broader view of governance, resisting temptations to concentrate power and pursue personal enrichment would enable parties to deliver policies for a better, more just society.


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