ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Disjointed Reading of Indian Political Parties

A Disjointed Reading of Indian Political Parties Rajeshwari Deshpande Since the 1990s, there has been a renewed interest in the working of the Indian party system. A combination of factors like the regionalisation of politics and gradual dispersal of political competition; Mandalisation and unfolding of social contestations; multiple realignments of national and regional level political forces; the arrival of coalition politics; and the decline and partial revival of the Congress Party contributed to the renewal of studies of Indian political parties and party systems during the last two decades. The book under review is a part of this growing pool of studies. However, it presents a rather disjointed reading of the parties and of the functioning of Indian democracy. Broadly speaking, the changing nature of political parties and of politics in recent times has evoked two kinds of responses in the academic and journalistic circles. One kind of response is generally appreciative of the arrival of a competitive multiparty system in India and links it to gradual expansion of Indian democracy. The other sees these developments as an erosion of the rules of liberal democracy, and growing political instability leading to a deepening crisis of Indian democracy. In its discussion of the issues facing Indian political parties, Short on Democracy: Issues Facing Indian Political Parties tries to bring together both these perspectives, but in a clumsy manner. As the title of the book suggests, the editorial perspective of the book clearly sees the functioning of political parties as problematic and

tone and texture of the essays in the collection is not the same and that makes it a rather incoherent comment on parties and Indian politics.

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