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Federal Processess


Federal Processes

State Parties and Electoral Federalism

Consolidation of an Alternative Regional Party

and Leader in Bihar

The Nitish Kumar-led NDA Alliance

government dominated by the Janata Dal (United)

(JD –U) was voted back to power in Bihar in 2010,

increasing its tally from 147 in 2005 to 206 in a

house of 243. The major opposition, Rashtriya

Janata Dal-Lok Janashakti Party combine got only

25 seats, a climb down from 52(RJD) + 13 (LJP) in

2005 (not allies then).

The Congress could get only four seats while

the residual others accounted for 8 (down from

18 previously). An alternative regional party in

JD-U has replaced the dominance of the RJD led

by Lalu Prasad Yadav for 15 years (1990-2005). The

vote in Bihar was widely interpreted as a vote for

good governance and development, turning its

back to sordid caste and communal calculus and

vicious cycle of amoral familism, crime,

corruption, and poverty (During the first term of

the NDA government in Bihar, the state registered

a very impressive annual economic growth rate

next only to Gujarat, the highest in India.)

In terms of federal coalition governance, the

Bihar elections are a shot in the arms of the official

NDA opposition in the Parliament.

Local Self-Government Elections

The year 2010 saw municipal elections in West

Bengal and Panchayat elections in Karnataka,

Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand. In West Bengal

municipal polls the left front ruling in the state

continuously since 1977 suffered reverses at the

hands of the Trinamool Congress. In Kolkata civic

polls, Trinamool Congress won 97 seats out of 141.

In a total of 81 municipal councils, the left front

won only 18. Trinamool Congress won 26, the INC

in 7, an anti-left alliance in 4, while 23 local urban

councils were hung, and 3 ended up in a tie. The

decline of the left front in the 2009 Lok Sabha

elections as well as the 2010 civic polls presage a

major electoral re-alignment in the west Bengal

in the forth-coming 2011 assembly elections.

In the January panchayat polls in Karnataka,

the ruling BJP in the state won in 423 Zila

Panchayats, the INC in 332, the Janata Dal

(Secular) in 161, and others in 30.

The same trend was reflected in the taluk

panchayats: BJP controlled 1226 of these bodies,

Congress 1055, JD (S) 663, and others 123.

In the multi-phase panchayat polls in

Jharkhand, marred by Maoist violence and

‘uncontested’ returns in some parts of the state,

the NDA (BJP + JMM) was the major political

force, though the elections were formally held on

non-party lines.

Contributed by: Mahendra Prasad Singh

Non-Territorial Federalism: Minority


India is a secular nation that treats all religions

equally with no discrimination against any

religion. The post-independence period saw a

nation in turmoil due to the partition and sectarian

riots which sealed India’s commitment to

secularism as one of defining parts of the ethos of

our written constitution.

As per Indian demography, Indian Muslims

are the second largest population in the country.

However, this community is not homogenous in

its composition; there are class and caste

differences within it, irrespective of Islamic

teaching of One God and universal brotherhood.

The trauma of partition left the baggage of ‘us

versus them’, which inflicts the Muslim

population till date. There have been numerous

reports about marginalisation of this community

even after six decades of independence (see Gopal

Singh Panel Report, NSSO1993, 1999-2000, Report

of the National Commission of Minorities, 1995;

The Sachar Committee Report, 2006).

The Ministry of Minorites Affairs was created

on 29 January, 2006, with the objective of ensuring

a focused approach to issues relating to minorities

and to play a pivotal role in the overall policy,

planning, coordination, evaluation and review of

the regulatory and development framework for

the benefit of the minority communities and

driving policy initiatives for minorities in

consultation with other ministries and state


Whether the creation of this infant ministry

is a mere act of tokenism by the government of

the day to appease the Muslim community was

one of the main critiques of this ministry.

However, keeping its rationale in mind, the

ministry initiated a plethora of schemes and

programmes under its mandate, such as free

coaching for minority students, multi-sectoral

development Programme (MSDP for school

buildings, additional class rooms, hostels,

laboratories for primary, secondary, higher

secondary / college education in 90 minority

concentration districts (MCDs) where there is

substantial minority population including


The plan outlay for Ministry of Minorities

Affairs witnessed an enhancement from Rs 1,000

crore in 2008-09 to Rs 1,740 crore in 2009-10

registering an increase of 74 per cent. As per the

latest 2009-2010 budget, the main initiatives for

this ministry were the total allocation of Rs 990

crore to be spent for multi-sectoral development

programmes for the community in 90 minorityconcentration

districts. The government doubled

the grants-in-aid for Maulana Azad Education

Foundation (MAEF). The allocation also covers


provisions for National Minority Development

and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) and pre- and

post-Matric scholarships for the minorities.

Allocations have also been made for new schemes

like National Fellowship for students and grantsin-

aid to Central Wakf Council for

computerisation of state Wakf Board records,

amongst others things.

After nearly five years, there is a feeling that

initially the ministry started with a big agenda

yet failed to deliver in substantial terms and got

mired in controversies and rejections.

Sheer overlapping of functions with other

ministries, rejection of demands by Planning

Commission, inadequate attention to the Sachar

Committee recommendations has made this

ministry a mute spectator with the issues of

development of minorities taking a back seat.

Contributed by:

Amna Mirza, Research Affiliate, CMF