Political History of India

For most of its independent history, India's national government has been controlled by the Indian National Congress Party. Following its position as the largest political organisation in pre-independence India, Congress, usually led by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, enjoyed nearly unchallenged dominance over national politics for over forty years. In 1977, a united opposition, under the banner of the Janata Party, won the election and formed a non-Congress government for a short period after the unpopular 'Emergency' imposed by the previous Congress regime. Later, in 1996, the BJP, with its right wing ideology based on militant Hinduism became the largest single party, and established for the first time a serious opposition to the largely left wing ideology of the Congress. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance along with smaller parties and became the first non-Congress government to sustain the full five year term after it returned to power in 1999. The decade prior to 1999 was marked by short-lasting governments, with seven separate governments formed within that period. One however, a Congress government formed in 1991, lasted the full five years and initiated significant economic reforms.

In the 2004 Indian elections the Congress party returned to power after winning the largest number of seats, by a narrow margin. Congress formed a government in alliance with the Communist Party of India and with several mostly-regional parties like the DMK from Tamilnadu. The NDA, led by the BJP, currently forms the main opposition. All governments formed since 1996 have required party coalitions, with no single majority party, due to the steady rise of regional parties at the national level.