Should Regional Parties be Banned from contesting National Elections?

India has currently 6 national parties (Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM, BSP and NCP) and 52 state parties (prominently SP, JD(U), AIADMK, DMK, BJD, Akali Dal, JMM, RLD, National Conference, TDP, TMC etc.).

Since 1989 Lok Sabha Elections, no single party has got majority and all govts. have been coalition govts. This has led to a lot of instability. The period also has witnessed the emergence of strong regional satraps. Many of them have been offshoots of the erstwhile Janata Dal (Mulayam’s SP, Ajit Singh’s RLD, Lalu’s RJD, Nitish’s JD(U), Patnaik’s BJD, Deve Gowda’s JD(S), Paswan’s LJP) and Congress (Mamta’s TMC, Pawar’s NCP).

After each election, parties jostle against each other to support the leading combination in return for ministerial berths. The state parties essentially have no ideology and keep on changing partners to suit their best needs. A few examples below:

  • Ajit Singh was a Cabinet minister in Congress’s govt. in 1991 under N. Rao, NDA’s govt. in 1999 of Vajpayee and now recently joined UPA’s govt. in 2012 of MMS.
  • National Conference (Abdullahs) has been in NDA’s govt. in 1999 and now in UPA’s govt. of MMS since 2009 
  • Trinamool Congress (TMC) has been in NDA’s govt. of 1999, UPA’s govt. of 2009 and recently pulled out of govt. 
  • Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supported Rao’s govt. in 1991, was with NDA govt. in 1999 and now with UPA govt. after jointly forming government in Jharkhand
  • Karunanidhi’s DMK has been in NDA’s govt. in 1999 and in UPA’s govt. in 2004 and 2009 before pulling its ministers recently 
  • Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has been in NDA;s govt. in 1999 and also in UPA’s govt. in 2004
  • Sikkim Democratic Front has been in NDA’s govt. of 1999 as well as UPA’s govt. of 2009 
  • Nitish’s JD(U) was in NDA govt. in 1999, broke alliance with BJP recently, tipped to join UPA govt.

There are other examples as well. So essentially they are hungry for power. These parties in most of the cases win seats fighting against Congress / BJP and after the elections join whichever party has majority leading to horse-trading. A lot of countries have a 2/3 party system. Why can’t we?

Feel we should allow only national parties to fight Lok Sabha elections. It should be fought on national issues and not state issues. To take care of state issues, state parties can fight with national parties in state elections.

Currently to be a national party you have to be state party in 4 or more states. To be a state party you need >=6% of votes polled in the respective states. The definition of national party should also need to change and it should be based on votes polled in Lok Sabha elections. One suggestion could be that any party getting more than 5% of votes in Lok Sabha elections be called a national party. This is needed to get rid of instability at the center. This way you will not get a hung Parliament.


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