What would be the summary of the politics of India from 1947 to today?

history : polity : What would be the summary of the politics of India from 1947 to today balaji sir

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

Independent India's first election was in the winter of 1951. Until then, the Constituent assembly elected in 1946 served as the Parliament. It was a closer affair with just 1800 people contesting for 489 MP seats [less than 4 people per seat on an average]. Nehru won comfortably – taking 364 of the 489 seats, although he won only 44% of the total votes.

There was the first sign of a strong socialism – with the 3 top socialist/communist parties winning nearly 20% of the total votes. The same trend continued for the next two elections – 1957 & 1962. Congress won about 45% in each elections and communist groups won 20%.

The revolution of 1967:

Until 1967, Congress had a near total control over in both state and national politics. While the Praja Socialist party took power in Kerala in 1954, Congress still dominated most of India. However, the death of Nehru and Shastri would loosen the grip of Congress. It would happen from many causes.

In 1965, the Indian Constitution's protection for English was to end. The Constitution framers negotiated for 15 years of parallel usage of English & Hindi and that 15 years from the enactment of the constitution was to end (1950-65). Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri initially hesitated to continue the protection and that engulfed South India – Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu.

(See more: What are the short-term and long-term effects of the anti-Hindi protests in Tamil Nadu?)

Out of nowhere, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam under CN Annadurai took power in 1967, fully leveraging the anti-Hindi agitations. Since then, Congress and national parties of India were never able to win in Tamil Nadu.

(See more: Why does it seem that it is only in Tamilnadu that devotion to leaders reaches fanatical levels?)

In the same year, Congress also lost grip on West Bengal. The lack of speed in land reforms brought out a big communist unrest (Naxalbari revolution) and also broke up Congress in the state to form the Bangla Congress which formed a government with the Communists. With a decade after that, Congress would be completely bundled away from the state.

In 1967, Punjab had Akali Dal taking power. In Uttar Pradesh, Charan Singh led Bharatiya Kranti Dal took power. As a result of all the regional parties arising in various parts of India, Indira Gandhi barely managed a majority in 1967 winning only 283 seats.

Breakup of Congress & Left Shift

Congress was already breaking in 1967 and there were huge differences between the left wing and the right wing of the party. The establishment under Kamaraj initially threw out Indira, but with the power of the rising left wing Indira came back to power under her new party Indian National Congress (R).

Since Indira had the support of the socialists and need to pander to them, she brought a variety of leftie moves such as nationalizing all the banks & a closer cooperation with the Soviet Union. Panic set among Indian industrialists and for two decades the Indian private sector would not recover. Indira won a thumping victory in 1971.

Emergency period

Indira seemed to get a hang of things with a resounding victory over Pakistan in 1971, bursting the Pokhran bomb and supporting the green revolution. However, her past karma caught up with her.

The Allahabad High Court nullified the election of Indira Gandhi over a trifling issue (of having a slightly high rostrum during a rally) and prevented her from standing in elections for a while.

The lady got angry and put India through a very bleak state that got the outsiders to assume that the democracy was over. Fortunately, it was not.
(See more: Chapter 9: The First Female Dictator)

In 1977 elections happened and Indira was voted out. India got out of Congress for the first time. The hodgepodge of left and right won 345 of the 543 seats. Before they could celebrate, their internal rivalries got the best of them and the coalition collapsed.

Indira was back, baby.

Flirting with terrorism

After coming back to power in 1979, Indira focused more on issues like terrorism. Indira had some success in this in the Bangladeshi liberation movement. But, she got too carried away on what she could do. She fomented Sikh terrorism through a complex political play. Eventually, she paid price with her own life.
(See more: What was Operation Blue Star?)

She also fomented the Tamil separatism by training the Lankan tigers that eventually got her son's life.
(See more: What is India's involvement in LTTE movement?)

After Indira was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards, her party presided over a national pogrom butchering Sikhs everywhere. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, won an election in a landslide through sympathy.

On the 1-10 scale of inexperience and incompetence, Rajiv scored 20. He fumbled on a range of issues from the Bhopal disaster to causing the rise of Kashmiri separatism in 1987, Babri masjid breaking and Indian Peacekeeping force.

(See more: Rajiv Gandhi: India's Worst Prime Minister)

Age of Coalitions

After Rajiv absolutely screwed both India and his party in the 1989 elections, a hodgepodge of left and right came to power. The new government brought the OBC politics to the table and signals the rise of a new political power center. The controversy created out of Mandal Commission broke the coalition and Congress was back to power in 1991.

This time, finally we had a guy who is not a member of the Nehru family. India did well in the economy as Narasimha Rao led the country well, especially the first 3 years of his term. The last two years, he was too engrossed in the various scams that eventually took his legacy apart.

(See more: What was it like to witness the 1991 economic reforms in India?)

In 1996 election, yet another group of third parties came to power and yet another time they failed in 2 years.

Rise of BJP

For a long time, BJP was in the shadows of its parent organization, RSS (National Volunteers Organization). Its organization was mostly run by some hardcore nationalists who were extremely poor in media management. They often gave outlandish, stupid statements and let the media paint them as crackheads. They found it very hard to utilize the public distrust for the Congress party.

In the late 1980s, they got real big push from an unexpected source: a TV series on Ramayana.

In 1987, Indian TV had its biggest blockbuster – Ramanand Sagar's TV adoption of Asia's famed epic – Ramayan. The roaring success of the TV series brought "Lord Ram" into the households of the educated middle class, which for a while seemed to move completely out of religion.

BJP leader Advani lost no time in running a "chariot" atop his Toyota van all over the nation. India was in "Ram frenzy". In late 1992, they used the frenzy to demolish a dilapidated old mosque in the holy city of Ayodhya. Although, the mosque demolition brought temporary backlash against them, by 1996 they became the single largest party in the Parliament using the leadership of moderate Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In 1998, it came to power and lost no time in taking India nuclear. In the following year, they were able to withstand a war against Pakistan over the Kashmiri town named Kargil. Nationalism was at its peak and the liberal Atal Bihari Vajpayee took India to one of the longest period of growth. By 2004, Indian economy was among the hottest in the world.

BJP gets carried away & Congress is back

In 2004 BJP appeared a juggernaut. They delivered growth, won wars and the nation was fairly peaceful. However, a big riot in Gujarat in 2002 that involved various BJP leaders was a big black mark for them. More importantly, the leadership was too confident of their victory and went overboard with their ads.

While India was fast growing, a lot of Indians were still poor. Many of them were taken aback by the ad campaign and this opened the door for the old devil. Congress leadership, now under Indira's daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi seemed to finally fix its leadership trouble. It narrowly won the elections. Sonia appointed a dummy figure head in Dr. Manmohan Singh to avoid bringing controversies about her own past (naturalized citizen who didn't take up citizenship at the first opportunity).

India did a fairly good job in 2004-09 timeframe and people voted them back in 2009, this time with a much bigger margin. Later, a whole lot of massive scams like the 2G spectrum was unearthed and the anti-incumbency factor set in.

Rise of Modi

In 2014, BJP finally had a leader who was able to work the media well. Until Modi's time, almost all media were anti-BJP for the most part. BJP and RSS were often clueless in talking to the media and thus repelled many of their target voters. Modi was adept in the art of media management and forced both BJP and RSS to not give out loose statements. The media tried really hard to bait him to give out self-defeating statements, but Modi was too smart for them. Everyone in RSS and their sister organizations knew that he was the winning horse and all decks were cleared to help Modi in every way.

Modi's rise has reversed a 3 decade trend towards regional politics. Regional parties like DMK, SP, BSP and ADMK were punching well above their league and the trend since 2014 May elections seems to be moving the other way regional satraps.

What would be the summary of the politics of India from 1947 to today?


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