Prof. A.S. Narang (left) speaking at the Department of Political Science, JMI; Wed. Aug. 27, 2014 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)

Pro. A.S. Narang Speaks on Indian Federalism in Light of 2014 Elections

Department of Political Science, JMI, organized a lecture by Prof. A.S. Narang, a professor of Political Science at IGNOU, on the topic: “Changing Contours of Indian Federalism: Reflections from 2014 Elections,”  at the department seminar room, on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.

Prof. Narang started by saying, “In India, federalism has become a very major issue as far as electoral politics is concerned.”

He went on to say, however, during the 2014 elections an attempt was made to project the general elections as if they had nothing to do with federalism. Five-thousand crore rupees were spent on a media campaign to form an image of a single individual as if he was standing for a presidential election and not a parliamentary elections. Elections were made to look like it were all about one man, he said.

But the fact of the matter is, 2014 elections was not about one man, he said. Just a little bit of analysis can reveal the truth.

He began his analysis by telling the audience that in 1994 the supreme court of India gave a historical verdict, which is popularly known as the Bommai case judgement. And in this verdict the SC said, federalism was one of the basic structures of Indian constitution and cannot be amended.

In addition, he said, if you look back in history, there has been a constant movement in India toward the assertion of diversity in society. And by 1989, it became very clear that India was not only a federal society but also a federal polity. One such manifestation of federalism was the emergence of coalition governments, in which regional parties played a very important role.

Furthermore he said, the process of liberalization and globalization also had an impact on the federal structure of India. This was because earlier, the economy was controlled by the central government. But once the liberalization process started, states went on their own to attract investors and started to compete with each other for foreign investment.

He also cited a paper by CSDS which claims that people particularly vote for parties in the general elections based on the performance of the parties performance in their state and not based on their national performance.

Moreover, if you look at the 2014 election results, he said, you will see that the BJP won 282 seats, but with only 31% of the votes. And out of these 282 seats, 206 seats are from nine Hindi heartland states. They got almost no seats in eastern Indian, hardly any seats in the south, with Karnataka being a bit of an exception. So the party which claims to represent the nation, technically speaking he said, represent only nine states out of 29.

It is clear from this he said: “The social factors of this country are so significant, that this issue of diversity cannot be simply kept under the carpet.”


Listen to Prof. A.S. Narang’s complete lecture here:

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