Indian democracy has seen many ups and downs. There have been attempts to enfeeble the basic features of our Constitution. There have been efforts to exploit the loopholes in our legal framework. However, these reactionary forces mostly have not upturned the cherished ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.
However, one thing that worries most Constitutional experts and the vigilant citizenry alike is the collapse of the political discourse of India- which has greatly weakened our institutions by default. Hence, integrity of major institutions face a trust crisis and need to undergo a trial by fire to ressurect themselves.
The narrative of a Unitarian State
The case for a weak federal state was laid down in the Indian Constitution because the universal determinants of federalism were honoured mostly in breach by framers of the Constitution. As the newly independent republic was still a fragile union-with too many denominators threatening its survival, the case for a quasi-federal state looked justified.
Changing politics and evolving Federalism
However with the recent limbo in Delhi, it seems to be apposite for the powers that be to take this debate around federalism to a logical conclusion. Delhi was promised full statehood by all the major parties before the General elections. But the rulers of today seem to have renegaded on their promise. Even the Congress Party did zilch in this direction during their reign.
On the other hand as shows the commiserations of the three CMs for their counterpart in Delhi, the federal front which looked quite farcical not so long ago (keeping in mind its past misadventures) is surely taking shape. The difference between the past and the present is not only in the nomenclature, but also in the power-equation of the front, as for the first time the Left shall not be the lead actor in such an alternative front.
That may make the coalition a motley group of regional parties with neither the resources nor the conviction to view the country as a whole- but it also makes their role important since their formation and success have been necessitated by the gradual decline by the Grand Old Party. Like it or not, regional parties in the coming months with the vices of casteism, regionalism and sectarianism dotted all over them shall emerge as a potent force in Indian politics.
Their alliance may be a case study for expediency, but surely it is a wake up call to the pan Indian parties to review federal relations in the Union as well as in themselves.
This gives rise to a very interesting arrangement which betrays conventional wisdom. As the Delhi episode has shown, the national parties seem to be on one side while the rest of the smaller parties- (mostly limited one state) seem to be stacked on the other. This may not be of any electoral consequence, but it ought to skew our perception of politics.