It is highly unlikely that India will be governed by any single party in the foreseeable future, says a new book.
"It is extremely unlikely that the world's largest democracy will again be governed by one dominant party at any time in the foreseeable future," Sumantra Bose writes in "Transforming India: Challenges to the World's Largest Democracy" (Picador India). "Instead, the rainbow coalitions that have become the norm in New Delhi will endure in shifting permutations and combinations," says the 337-page book, a story of India's democracy in the early 21st century.
Bose, a professor of international and comparative politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, also says that the future of Indian democracy "will be defined by regionalisation and regionalism".
Bose makes it clear that the legitimacy to govern the nation that the Congress inherited from its stewardship of the freedom struggle "finally petered out in the late 1980s". He added that the BJP's attempt to supplant the Congress as India's dominant party and construct a new formula for hegemonic rule around "Hindu majoritarianism" hit a bump in the later 1990s. He finds fault with the Congress, saying its accommodation of the regional and plural character of contemporary India's political landscape was "fundamentally grudging and reluctant". "Ironically, it was the BJP ... who proved much quicker to recognize and adapt to the centrifugal dynamics of India's politics in the post-1989 era."
The book identifies 1989 as a critical year in Indian politics since it marked the arrival of the country's first multi-party coalition government led by VP Singh. The author also states that the Bharatiya Janata Party "is better placed to adapt to a regionalised politics as it had traditions of collective leadership and internal democracy". The book describes Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi - now the BJP's prime ministerial aspirant - as a "successful regional (state-level) politician".
In remarks clearly directed at the Gandhi family, Bose says that any claim to leading the nation that is based principally on dynastic lineage "is utterly unsustainable today. "Modi at least is a self-made leader from an ordinary Indian family of Gujarat OBC origins who has risen to prominence through a mix of talent, luck, hard work and political skullduggery."