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Recent Developments In Indian Politics | Class 12 Political Science

The chapter introduces students to the major political developments happening in Indian Politics. It highlights the political dimensions that changed after the prime minister Indra Gandhi. The chapter outlines the Alliance politics and the Congress system.


What kind of political changes occurred after Indira Gandhi?

Following Indira Gandhi's assassination, Rajiv Gandhi was elected Prime Minister. In the Lok Sabha elections conducted shortly after, in 1984, he led the Congress to a landslide win.

Five events occurred in the country that had long-term consequences for our politics.

  • The defeat of the Congress party in the 1989 elections, which signalled the end of the congress system, was the most significant event of this period.

  • The advent of the "Mandal issue" in national politics was the second development. 'Anti-Mandal' protests erupted in various sections of the country as a result of this.

  • Third, the various governments' economic policies diverged dramatically. In 1991, there were new economic reforms.

  • Fourth, in 1992, the controversial edifice in Ayodhya, the Babri Masjid, was demolished. These changes are linked to the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and 'Hindutva' politics.

  • Finally, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in May 1991 resulted in the Congress party's leadership changing. While on an electoral campaign tour in Tamil Nadu, he was slain by a Sri Lankan Tamil affiliated to the LTTE.

Era Of Coalitions

In 1989, the Congress party was defeated in elections, but no other party was able to secure a majority.

The National Front (a coalition of the Janata Dal and various regional parties) was backed by two radically opposed political forces: the BJP and the Left Front. The National Front formed a coalition government on this premise, but neither the BJP nor the Left Front joined.

Congress's Rejection

What led to the defeat of congress?

The defeat of congress signalled the end of the congressional party system. Under the leadership of Indra Gandhi, the Congress Party's supremacy was threatened, but the party was able to reclaim its position as the most powerful political force in the country.

The Congress's strong position was again challenged in the 1990s. A multi-party period began. In our country, there have always been a significant number of political parties competing in elections.

Representatives from a variety of political parties have always been present in our legislature.

Following 1989, a number of parties emerged, with no single party receiving the majority of votes or seats.

Since 1989, no single political party has won a clear majority of seats in the Lok Sabha. This ushered in a new age of coalition governments at the national level, with regional parties playing an important role in forging ruling coalitions.

What were the Alliance Politics?

In the 1990s, major Dalit and backwards-group-oriented parties and movements arose. These parties not only represented strong regional assertion but also played a key role in the United Front's 1996 election victory.

The United Front, like the National Front of 1989, contained the Janata Dal and a number of regional parties. The BJP refused to back the administration this time. The Congress backed the United Front government, demonstrating the political landscape's instability.

Both the Left and the BJP backed the National Front Government in 1989 to keep Congress from gaining power.

The Left continued to assist the non-Congress government in 1996 because both Congress and the Left wanted the BJP to be defeated.

Despite all of its efforts, the BJP was able to maintain its majority in the 1991 and 1996 elections. It was invited to form the government after winning the most votes in the 1996 election.

The BJP government was unable to win a majority in the Lok Sabha since most other parties were opposed to its policies. It was re-elected in October 1999 after leading a coalition government from May 1998 to June 1999.

Both of these NDA governments were led by Atal Behari Vajpayee, who served as Prime Minister for the entire duration of his 1999 government.

In India, a long period of coalition politics preceded the 1989 elections.

Since then, there have been nine central governments, all of which have been coalition governments or minority governments with the assistance of other parties.

Any administration could be formed in this new phase only with the involvement or support of a large number of regional parties. In 1989, the National Front, the United Front in 1996 and 1997, the NDA in 1997, the BJP-led coalition in 1998, the NDA in 1999, and the UPA in 2004 were all examples of this.

The phrase 'Congress system' originated with the Congress party, which was a 'coalition' of various interests, socioeconomic strata, and organisations.

Other Backward Classes' Political Rise

The growth of Other Backward Classes as a political force was a long-term trend of this period.

Other than SC and ST, there are communities that are educationally and socially disadvantaged. These are also known as the "backward castes."

As Congress's popularity among the 'backward classes' waned, so did their support for it. This opened the door for non-Congress parties to gain traction in these localities.

The Janata Party government of 1977 was the first political expression of these parties' emergence at the national level.

Many of the Janata Party's components, such as the Bharatiya Kranti Dal and the Samyukta Socialist Party, had a strong rural base among the OBC.

How was the ‘Mandal' put into action?

In the 1980s, the Janata Dal pulled together a similar coalition of political parties with considerable OBC support.

The National Front government's decision to follow the Mandal Commission's recommendations further shaped the politics of the 'Other Backward Classes.'

People from the OBC community were more aware of their identity as a result of the heated national debate about job reservation. It aided those seeking to mobilise these groupings for political purposes.

During this time, various parties arose to advocate for better chances for OBCs in school and work, as well as to address the issue of the OBCs' share of power.

These parties argued that because OBCs make up a significant portion of Indian society, they should be given proper representation in administration and a fair share of political power.

Political Fallouts

The Dalit political organisation grew in the 1980s.

The BAMCEF (Backward and Minority Classes Employees Federation) was founded in 1978. This was not your typical government employee's trade union.

It took a strong stance in favour of Bahujan—SCs, STs, OBCs, and minorities—gaining political power.

Kanshi Ram founded the Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti, which ultimately became the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The BSP began as a minor party in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, primarily supported by Dalit people. However, it made a breakthrough in Uttar Pradesh during the 1989 and 1991 elections.

This was the first time in independent India that a political party with a majority of Dalit voters had won such a large number of votes.

The BSP, under Kanshi Ram's leadership, was envisioned as a pragmatic political party. It took comfort in the fact that Bahujans (SC, ST, OBC, and religious minorities) made up the majority of the population and were a powerful political force due to their numbers.

Since then, the BSP has grown into a dominant political force in the state, serving in government on several occasions. Its strongest supporters are still Dalit voters, but it increasingly has backing from a variety of other social groups.

Dalit politics and OBC politics have developed separately and often in rivalry in various places of India.

Communalism, Secularism, Democracy

The Birth of Bharatiya Janata Party

Following the Emergency, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh merged with the Janata Party to become the Janata Party. After the Janata Party's demise and disintegration in 1980, followers of the old Jana Sangh created the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP embraced ‘Gandhian Socialism' as its ideology and established a broader political platform.

After 1986, the party's philosophy began to emphasise the Hindu nationalist element. The BJP embraced 'Hindutva' politics and a mobilisation strategy aimed at Hindus.


Hindutva, which literally means 'Hinduness,' was characterised by its founder, V. D. Savarkar, as the foundation of Indian (and Hindu) nationhood. It effectively meant that everyone who wanted to be a part of the Indian people had to recognise India not just as their "fatherland" (pitrubhu), but also as their "holy country" (punyabhu).

Hindutva supporters think that a great nation can only be established on the foundation of a strong and united national culture.

Around 1986, two events became pivotal in the BJP's politics as a 'Hindutva' party. The Shah Bano case, which occurred in 1985, was the first. In this case, a 62-year-old divorced Muslim woman had sued her former spouse for support.

Her case was heard by the Supreme Court, which found in her favour. The Supreme Court's decision was seen by orthodox Muslims as a violation of Muslim personal law.

The government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, on the request of some Muslim leaders, nullifying the Supreme Court's decision.

Many women's organisations, Muslim groups, and the majority of academics condemned the government's decision.

The BJP slammed the Congress government's policy as an unwarranted surrender to the minority community and "appeasement."

What was the Ayodhya Dispute all about?

In February 1986, the Faizabad district court ordered that the Babri Masjid be unlocked so that Hindus might pray at the site, which they deemed a temple.

The Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya had been the subject of a long-running controversy. Mir Baqi, the Mughal emperor Babur's General, erected the Babri Masjid in the 16th century.

Some Hindus think it was built after a temple for Lord Rama was demolished near what is thought to be his birthplace.

The argument escalated into a legal battle that has lasted decades. The mosque was shut up in the late 1940s because of a legal case.

Mobilisation began on both sides as soon as the Babri Masjid's locks were opened. This local conflict grew into a huge national issue, causing communal strife.

This has become a huge electoral and political issue for the BJP. It organised a number of symbolic and mobilizational programmes alongside numerous other organisations such as the RSS and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).

This massive mobilisation resulted in a heightened atmosphere and numerous instances of communal violence. The BJP organised a large march dubbed the Rathyatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in order to gain public support.

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Ayodhya Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case on November 9, 2019.

Prior to the announcement of the verdict, security measures were intensified around the country. In UP, Delhi, and other states, Section 144 was enacted.

The Mosque's Demolition

In December 1992, the temple's supporters organised a Karseva, or volunteer service by devotees, to help build the temple.

The situation has deteriorated across the country, particularly in Ayodhya. The State administration was required by the Supreme Court to ensure that the contested location was not jeopardised.

Thousands of people from all across the country assembled in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, to demolish the mosque.

In many regions of the country, this news sparked conflicts between Hindus and Muslims. In January 1993, the violence in Mumbai erupted once more and lasted for over two weeks.

The State government, which was led by the BJP, was overthrown by the Centre. Other States in which the BJP was in power were also placed under the President's administration.

The Supreme Court has filed a case against Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister for contempt of court after he gave an assurance that the disputed edifice will be protected.

The BJP has publicly expressed regret for the events in Ayodhya. The federal government established a commission to look into the events that led to the mosque's demolition.

Most political parties denounced the demolition, claiming that it violated secularism's values. Since 1984, this democratic climate of communal harmony has faced numerous challenges.

This occurred in 1984 when anti-Sikh riots erupted.

Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat

In Gujarat, large-scale violence against Muslims occurred in February and March 2002. An incident at a station called Godhra served as the initial catalyst for this violence.

The bogie of a train returning from Ayodhya, which was packed with Karsevaks, was set on fire. That fire claimed the lives of 57 people. Suspecting Muslims of setting fire to the temple, large-scale rioting against Muslims occurred the next day in several regions of Gujarat.

This violence claimed the lives of about 1100 people, the majority of them were Muslims. The Gujarat government's role in failing to contain violence was criticised by the National Human Rights Commission.

The Indian Election Commission has decided to postpone the assembly elections. The Gujarat riots, like the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, demonstrate that the governmental machinery is subject to sectarian passions.

Emergence Consensus

After 1989, the period is commonly referred to as the decline of Congress and the emergence of the BJP. In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the NDA was defeated by the UPA, a new coalition government (United Progressive Alliance).

The Left Front parties came out in support of the administration. The Congress party saw a partial resurgence in the 2004 elections. After the 1990s, the political processes that unfolded around us revealed several Coalition factions.

What are the components of Consensus growth?

Despite fierce competition and several confrontations, most parties appear to have reached an agreement. There are four components to this agreement.

  • A new set of economic policies has been agreed upon.

  • Acceptance of the backward classes' political and social claims

  • Acceptance of the role of state-level parties in the country's governance

  • A focus on pragmatic factors rather than intellectual beliefs and political alliances that are not ideologically compatible.


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