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Published : February 22, 2014 | Author : Srividya Sastry
Category : Constitutional Law | Total Views : 24363 | Rating :

Srividya Sastry
I'm currently pursuing my LL M at Christ university, my interests are comparative Public Law, constitutional Law, Environmental Jurisprudence

Political systems are classified into federal and unitary forms of governance based on the distribution or concentration of powers between the centre and the state or in the centre respectively. The word federalism is derived from the Latin word Foedus, which according to Lewis’ Latin Dictionary means League or treaty or compact or alliance or contract or marriage contract. This word was first coined by the Theologians in the seventeenth century in order to describe the system of holy enduring covenant between god and man. But later on it became related to the theories of social contract and was associated with the desire to build political society. Thus, federalism is a concept applied to a political system characterized by two levels of government deriving powers and functions from an authority which is not controlled by either level of government. The upper level of government is the national or central government and the lower level of government may be called a province or state or canton. Federalism requires understanding and negotiations between the centre and state governments in the making and implementation of policies.

The term coalition is derived from the Latin word ‘coalition’ meaning to go or grow together. Thus it means an act of coalescing or uniting into one body or alliance. It indicates the combination of a number of bodies or parts into one body or whole. In the political sense it is used to indicate an alliance or temporary union between various political groups for the exercise or control of political power. Professor Ogg defines coalition in the Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences, as “cooperative arrangements under which distinct political parties or at all events members of such parties unite to form a Government or Ministry”. Thus, it can be said that result of the exigencies of competitive multi-party system in a parliamentary democracy is coalition. It is a phenomenon where more than two political parties come together to form a government , sinking their basic ideological differences in the event of the inability of any single party to command a workable majority in the lower House of the legislature.

Generally coalitions are said to be formed on account of one of the following reasons:

1. No single political party is able to secure a working majority in the popular house on account of the presence of multi-party system. Under these circumstances a number like-minded political parties form the coalition to provide a workable majority and run the government.

2. In a Bi-party system a deadlock may be created due of even balance between two parties allying itself with a minor group such as neutral or defectors till the majority in its favour.

3. A coalition may be necessitated by a national crisis when the various political groups may suspend their political strife and collaborate in the general cause of protecting and promoting their national interest.

Federalism And Coalition Government In India:
Nature of Indian Federalism:
The history of the Indian federalism can be traced back to the provisions enshrined in the Government of India Act, 1935. The Indian constitution fulfils the requirement of a federal system by prescribing the presence of two levels of governance simultaneously operating at (I) national, central and federal government; (ii) state, regional and provincial government along with the division of powers between centre and state allocated by the constitution.

Though there is distribution of powers between centre and state in the Indian Federation and the respective areas of competence of each is earmarked, the constitution of India provides for a larger concentration of powers on the central government. In State of Rajasthan v. Union of India, it was quoted that according to Granville Austin, the Constitution of India was perhaps the first constituent body to embrace from the start what A.H. Birch and others have called “cooperative federalism”. Chief Justice Beg called the Constitution ‘amphibian’,”....If then our Constitution creates a Central Government which is ‘amphibian’, in the sense that it can move either on the federal or on the unitary plane, according to the needs of the situation and circumstances of a case...”. Thus one can say that Indian Federation is based on Co-operative federalism.

Emergence of coalition Government in India:
The process of fragmentation of the national party system and emergence of minority or coalition governments started in India from 1967. This period also marked the emergence of coalitions and also new parties and mergers along with breakup of some parties and absorption of the others.

This began the era of Coalition Politics or Multi party rule in India. The adoption of multi party system and regionalism changed the centre-state relations to a certain extent. Participation of many regional parties in the coalition government at the centre particularly indicates the significant shift from centralised governance towards shared rule and federal governance.

Coalition Government And Its Impact On Centre State Relations:
With the increase in the regional parties’ participation the Indian government both at the centre and state has led to various changes and impact on Centre- State relation.

The impact of the Coalition government on Centre- State relations can be discussed under the following headings in light of the recent political developments:

1. The office of the Governor;
2. The increase in the demand for State autonomy.

1. Office Of Governor:
In the recent times the appointment of the governor has gone through a rough phase due to coalition form of government. Political compulsions to form the government especially at the national level solely guided by the majority gaining political party certainly results in deteriorating Centre- State relations. Further also it would make the office of Governor exposed to vulnerabilities of the political pressures. For example, recent wholesale removal, transfer and resignations of the Governors of Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Punjab, who were previously appointed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and more particularly the way in which the government of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dealt with the Governor of Tamil Nadu by getting into a avoidable controversy of a political natures proves beyond any doubt that the politics in India has gone a long way to come within the grips of co-operative federalism.

The recent Tamil Nadu case in relation to the change of the governor, more particularly to satisfy the coalition partner from the state and that too against the will of the ruling party in the State of Tamil Nadu without substantial and reasonable grounds for such a drastic step gives proof to the fact that there is a requirement of strengthening the office of the Governor in India. Further this situation was more complicated with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister moving to the Supreme Court by filing an affidavit which contained some excerpts from her conversation with the Home Minister, which the opposition and then the member of the Coalition Government at the National level argued that this was a violation of the OSA or Oath of Secrecy.Even though the controversy was subsided legally with the Supreme Court declining to grant interim relief to the government of Tamil Nadu in order restrain the Centre from transferring the governor without the consent of the Chief Minister of the State, has to a large extent effected the relations between Centre and the State. Also another example which can be cited here is, in order to prove that under coalition government the office of Governor is dictated by political compulsions is the UPA government’s pressure to change the Governor of Bihar Rama Jois.

2. State Autonomy:
The participation of regional parties in the Centre has significantly impacted Indian federal structure. The formation of coalition government has resulted to a large extent deviation from the characteristic of Indian federalism with centralising tendencies. With regional parties emergence the demand for state autonomy has increased drastically.

The participation of regional parties has resulted in unstable, weak government at the centre. Every party to the coalition attempts to assert its own geographical, cultural and economic interests in the political process. The regional parties emphasis on the development of their region instead of focussing on the development of the nation as a whole.

It necessary at this point to note the recent demand of Tamil Nadu to fully give the power generated by a power station located in its state instead of allotting the power to the national grid and share power according to Central Electricity Authority gives a picture of the unusual demand of a regional party which overrides national priority.

The Telangana is also one of the issues which affect the formation coalition government at the centre. Though UPA government at the centre has recommended creation of telangana state, the process looks difficult, because of coalition compulsions. The central government is in a state of fix whether to divide Andhra Pradesh into two states or not. Since if the central government will not agree for the division it cannot persuade Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) into alliance in 2014 general elections.

This is how regional parties play a very crucial role in the formation of coalition government at the centre.

Suggestions And Conclusion:
It is true that the Indian did not have a very good experience with coalition Government experiments. But the Coalition Government in India is here to stay. In the light of above mentioned impact of coalition government on Centre State relations I would to suggest few reforms for the proper regulation of the Coalition form of Government.

1. The coalition government must be made Legitimate. A Broad base programme as suggested by Second Reforms Commission must be adopted so that Socio- economic development of the country is met.

2. The Governor’s office must be made free from the clutches of the political parties and reforms must be brought about for the same in order to maintain the sanctity of the office of the Governor.

Thus, in the end it can be said that though the coalition form of Government provides an opportunity to different to Socio-Cultural and Economic parties to participate in the Governance of the Nation, it brings about a lot of turf between the Centre and State. The regional parties at the centre attempt to articulate and aggregate regional interests’ irrespective interest of Nation which in turn affects the overall development of the Nation. Also the most important office which is necessary for the proper maintenance of centre state relations that is the Office of the Governor is also politicised in order to maintain the stability of the coalition government.

1. Federal System And Coalition Government In India, Conflict And Consensus In Centre-State Relations, (D. Sundar Ram, Ed., 2007)
2. Coalition Government & Good Governance, (Hoshiar Singh Et Al. Eds., 2007)

# Haridwar Rai & Vijay kumar, Changing Party System and Vitality of the Federal Structure in India, in FEDERAL SYSTEM AND COALITION GOVERNMENT IN INDIA CONFLICTS AND CONSENSUS IN CENTRE-STATE RELATIONS 13,13 ( Kanishka publishers, distributors ed., 2007)
# S. S. Sreekumar, Social Base of Indian Federalism: Challenges and Prospects, in FEDERAL SYSTEM AND COALITION GOVERNMENT IN INDIA CONFLICTS AND CONSENSUS IN CENTRE-STATE RELATIONS 235,235 ( Kanishka publishers, distributors ed., 2007)
# M. R. Biju, Political of Coalition in India: Survival and Stability, in FEDERAL SYSTEM AND COALITION GOVERNMENT IN INDIA CONFLICTS AND CONSENSUS IN CENTRE-STATE RELATIONS 169,169 ( Kanishka publishers, distributors ed., 2007)
# Gopal Prasad Singh, Coalition as a Model of Weak Governance: An Indian Experience in COALITION GOVERNMENTS AND GOOD GOVRNANCE 22, 23 (Aalek Publishers ed.,2007
# M. R. Biju, Political of Coalition in India: Survival and Stability, in FEDERAL SYSTEM AND COALITION GOVERNMENT IN INDIA CONFLICTS AND CONSENSUS IN CENTRE-STATE RELATIONS 169,170 ( Kanishka publishers, distributors ed., 2007)
# State of Rajasthan v. Union of India, AIR 1977 SC 1361
# T. S. Subramaninan, A Governor’s removal, (November 19, 2004) http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=flonnet&rdurl=fl2123/index.htm
# Ashok Malik, The Telangana Decision Can’t Be Left to The UPA’s Electoral Gambles, February 16, 2013 http://www.tehelka.com/the-telangana-decision-cant-be-left-to-the-upas-electoral-gambles/#
# Second Administrative law Reforms Commission, Ethics in Governance, January 2005, 15

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