History of Political Parties
The dominance of the Indian National Congress was broken for the first time
in 1977, with the defeat of the party led by Indira Gandhi, by an unlikely
coalition of all the major other parties, which protested against the imposition
of a controversial Emergency from 1975-1977. The weak coalition was marked by a
strong undercurrent of dissent and lead to its breaking apart in 1979. A similar
coalition, led by VP Singh was swept to power in 1989 in the wake of major
allegations of corruption by the incumbent Prime-Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. It too
lost its steam in 1990.
In 1992, the heretofore one-party-dominant politics in India gave way to a coalition system wherein no single party can expect to achieve a majority in the Parliament to form a Government, but rather has to depend on a process of coalition building with other parties to form a bloc and claim a majority to be invited to form the Government. This has been a consequence of strong regional parties which ride on the back of regional aspirations. While parties like the TDP and the DMK had traditionally been strong regional contenders, the 1990s saw the emergence of other regional players such as the Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Janta Dal. These parties are traditionally based on regional aspirations, e.g. Telengana Rastra Samiti or strongly influenced by caste considerations, e.g. Bahujan Samaj Party which claims to represent the Dalits.
A coalition of non-congress parties was formed again in 1996, but was a lost cause by 1997, when it became a congress supported regime. It disintegrated in 1998, which swept the National Democratic Alliance to the power for the first time. This too was short-lived and lost the majority on the floor of the house by a single vote in a no-confidence motion. A coalition of non-congress parties worked for the first time in the period 1999-2004, when for the first time, a non-congress government was able to complete its term in office.
Presently, the United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress Party is in power, while the National Democratic Alliance led by Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) forms the opposition.