Coalition government in India

Coalition government in India


Recently, the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) led by BJP, formed the government at the centre for the third consecutive time.

GS-02 (Indian Polity)


  • Definition of Coalition Government: A coalition government is formed when multiple political parties come together to exercise political power based on a commonly agreed programme, typically because no single party has achieved a clear majority in the parliament.
  • Formation and Features: Coalition governments arise in situations where no party secures a majority, leading to alliances that can form a government if they agree on a shared plan. These governments are marked by pragmatism rather than strict ideological alignment and are dynamic, with parties and groups frequently changing.
  • Pre-poll and Post-poll Coalitions: Pre-poll coalitions are formed before elections to present a united front to voters, while post-poll coalitions are formed after elections to share political power and govern.

Punchhi Commission Recommendations:

  • The Punchhi Commission set guidelines for appointing Chief Ministers in hung assemblies.
  • It recommended that the party or coalition with the widest support should be invited to form the government, treating pre-poll alliances as single entities, and outlined the order of preference if no clear majority exists.

Sarkaria Commission Observations:

  • The Sarkaria Commission highlighted issues in Indian federalism arising from poor consultation between the Centre and states and noted that the interstate council was effective when regional parties played a significant role at the national level, underscoring the importance of coalition governments.

Merits of Coalition Governments in the Indian Setup:

  • Representation of Diverse Interests: Since they have multiple parties they can represent a broader spectrum of the population, addressing diverse regional, social, and economic interests.
  • Checks and Balances: There will be a system of checks and balances that reduces the likelihood of authoritarian decision-making and promoting democratic governance.
  • Collaborative Decision-Making: Policies and decisions are typically the result of negotiations and consensus among coalition partners, leading to more balanced and inclusive governance.
  • Reduced Dominance of a Single Party: Coalition governments prevent any single party from having excessive control, fostering a more equitable political environment and promoting power-sharing.


  • Policy Paralysis: The need for consensus among diverse coalition partners can lead to slow decision-making and policy paralysis, as compromises and negotiations can be time-consuming and contentious.
  • Fragmented Governance: The inclusion of multiple parties with differing agendas can lead to fragmented governance, with inconsistent policies and priorities that may hinder cohesive and effective administration.
  • Instability and Frequent Elections: Coalition governments can be unstable, as disagreements among coalition partners may lead to the collapse of the government, resulting in frequent elections and political instability.
  • Compromise on Ideology: Parties in a coalition often have to compromise on their core ideologies and principles to maintain the alliance, potentially diluting their political identity and disappointing their voter base.
  • Political Bargaining: Coalition governments can be marked by political bargaining and deal-making, where smaller parties may demand disproportionate influence or concessions, leading to governance that prioritizes political survival over public interest.

Way forward:

  • To strengthen India’s coalition governments, clear agreements should outline the shared agenda and responsibilities of each partner. Establishing regular dialogue and conflict resolution mechanisms will enhance communication among coalition members.
  • Ensuring stability through fixed tenures and incentives for collaboration is crucial. Broad-based policy formulation that benefits all constituents and supports decentralization should be promoted.
  • Finally, building public trust through transparency, accountability, and public engagement is essential for effective governance.