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Divided We GovernCoalition Politics in Modern India$
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Sanjay Ruparelia

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190264918

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190264918.001.0001

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The Rise of the Regions (1980–1989)

The Rise of the Regions (1980–1989)

(p.89) 4 The Rise of the Regions (1980–1989)
Divided We Govern

Sanjay Ruparelia

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the rise of new state-based parties and growing regional demands during the 1980s. The Congress’ return to power in 1980, and its massive electoral victory following the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, suggested renewed dominance. Rajiv Gandhi declared his ambition to modernize the state, castigating bureaucratic corruption and promoting economic liberalization. Yet the growth of various opposition forces—the Left Democratic Front of the communists, regional parties such as the Telugu Desam Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazagham and Asom Gana Parishad in the center, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party on the right—intensified electoral competition in the states. The failure of the Congress to grasp the nature of these developments, and its cynical tactical mishandling of federal demands in Assam and Punjab and of secular anxieties stoked by the Ramjanmabhoomi movement and the Shah Bano case, worsened communal polarization and Centre-state relations. Perceptions of high political corruption, general economic mismanagement and mounting opposition unity led to the formation of the Janata Dal and National Front, sealing the demise of the Congress in the 1989 general election.

Keywords:   Bharatiya Janata Party, Left Democratic Front, Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, Telugu Desam Party, Asom Gana Parishad, Janata Dal, National Front, Ramjanmabhoomi movement, Shah Bano, 1989 general election

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