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

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Analysing Coalition Politics through a Narrative Lens

Divided We Govern: Coalition Politics in Modern India by Sanjay Ruparelia; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp 520, ₹995.

The aims of this excellent book are to challenge existing empirical accounts of the Janata Party, the National Front (NF) and the United Front (UF) (consisting of the NF and the Left Front [LF])—three important coalition governments in Indian political history—and analyse the history of the “third force” or “third front” (non-Congress, non-BJP [non-Bharatiya Janata Party]), with a view to generate new theoretical insights in Indian political science.

The book begins by differentiating the author’s methodology from the standard rational choice-inspired studies of coalition politics worldwide. The author argues that “political agency” and “quality of judgment” are especially salient for determining the trajectory of the third force (p 7). He opts for a “fine-grained analytical narrative” for studying the dynamics of national coalition politics, which he argues is an excellent technique for a “moving picture” of “politics in time” (p 8). In contrast to most studies, Ruparelia focuses not on the episodes of the formation and demise of coalitions, but on the dynamics, that is, the actions of senior party leaders—because parties are not unitary organisations, they are weakly institutionalised and are driven by internal power struggles.

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Updated On : 24th May, 2017
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