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Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister-designate of India, took the oath of office today for a third consecutive term as the head of a coalition government. This historic moment marks a significant milestone in Indian politics, as Modi becomes the second Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to win three consecutive terms.

The oath-taking ceremony, held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, was attended by dignitaries, political leaders, and celebrities. Modi, 73, was administered the oath of office by President Droupadi Murmu, marking the beginning of his new term.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to a comfortable victory in the recent general elections, securing 293 seats despite a strong challenge from the Congress-led INDI Alliance, which won 232 seats. The BJP itself was leading in 240 seats.

This election, the largest in human history, saw over 650 million Indian voters exercise their right to vote. The outcome reflects the changing political landscape of India, where coalition governments have become a defining feature of the country’s politics since the 1990s.

Evolution of Coalition Governments in India

Coalition governments have been a prominent feature of Indian politics since the 1990s, marking a shift from single-party dominance to coalition politics. This shift has reshaped the political landscape, necessitating the formation of alliances between different political parties to govern the country.

Prior to 1999, coalition governments in India were unstable, but the formation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999 marked a stable phase of coalition governments. The NDA and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments that followed provided stable governments, addressing the concerns of the Indian people.

Factors Contributing to the Rise of Coalition Governments

Several factors have contributed to the rise of coalition governments in India. These include:

1. Fragmented Mandate: The Indian electoral system, with its first-past-the-post voting system, often results in a fragmented mandate, where no single party wins an absolute majority. This necessitates the formation of coalitions to govern the country.
2. Regional Parties:The rise of regional parties has further fragmented the political landscape, making it difficult for any single party to win an outright majority.
3. Changing Political Landscape:The political landscape in India has undergone significant changes since the 1990s, with the emergence of new political parties and the decline of traditional parties.

Impact on the Functioning of the Indian Political System

Coalition governments have brought both positives and negatives to the functioning of the Indian political system. On the positive side, they have fostered greater representation and strengthened federalism. However, they have also led to policy paralysis and instability, as different parties with different agendas and priorities often clash.
Measures to Overcome Negatives

To overcome the negatives associated with coalition governments, several measures can be taken:

1. Common Minimum Programme: A common minimum programme can be adopted by coalition partners to ensure policy coherence and stability.
2. Strengthening Institutional Mechanisms: Institutional mechanisms, such as the Cabinet and the Parliament, can be strengthened to ensure effective governance and policy implementation.
3. Promoting Political Accountability: Political accountability can be promoted by ensuring transparency and accountability in governance, as well as by holding leaders accountable for their actions.