Voters in five Indian states elected candidates for state assemblies from among at least 15 political parties and more than 80 independents. The states of Goa, Punjab, and Uttarakhand will have a coalition government, and Manipur and Uttar Pradesh will have a single party government.
The Indian National Congress, the main party in the ruling coalition central government, lost in four states. It won a meager 28 seats out of 403 in UP, the most populous state in India. Like the INC, many parties failed to win a majority.
One problem is that India has hundreds of political parties. If each party’s name is alphabetically arranged, every letter of the English language alphabet (A-Z) will be used, and under many letters a long list will appear. Some parties are large; many are small. Some are caste based; some are religion based; some are region based; some are mission or movement based; some are work based; and some are based on an individual’s charisma.
Many of us identify ourselves with the language we speak, the religion we follow, the caste to which we belong or the region in which we reside. Our society is based on a caste system, and it is the Maker who decided one’s caste. A caste cements people of the same kind together and forms a cohesive group, and there is no reason to disintegrate it. In fact, one should be proud of one’s caste, customs, culture, ancestors, heritage, and language. However, unless a caste is large and all its members vote for a caste candidate, hopefully a qualified one, he or she is unlikely to win an election. Assume that blacks in America represented a black caste. One could then argue that overwhelming votes from the black-caste contributed to Barrack Obama’s victory in 2008. In this case the caste was sizeable and the candidate was qualified.
Similar arguments can be made in favor of forming a political party based on religion, region, or other factors; however, chances of any of them winning a clear majority in a state or national election are slim. So, we mostly end up forming a hotchpotch coalition government which seldom functions effectively.
If the people of India unite and establish political parties based on economic philosophies rather than caste, religion etc., they would benefit. First, it would reduce the number of parties from hundreds to maybe three or four. A party could then be formed that believes in capitalism or socialism or communism or small government. Second, it would expedite the processes of printing, voting, and counting ballots. Third, it would put the issues of caste, religion, region, language, petty differences, etc. behind us and would force us to find ways to move our nation forward. Finally, it would help us unite behind a principle.
The latest news indicates that more than 200 elected winners in these elections have criminal charges pending against them. What a shame! It is high time we have fewer parties and honest leaders. I am reminded of the poem “Great Men” by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Not gold, but only man can make
A people great and strong;
Men who, for truth and honor’s sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly –
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.