‘How Different Are Goa’s Politics?’

Date01 December 2013
Published date01 December 2013
Subject MatterArticles
Military-Madrasa-Mullah Complex 203
India Quarterly, 66, 2 (2010): 133–149
A Global Threat 203
‘How Different Are
Goa’s Politics?’1
Arthur G. Rubinoff
This article explores how Goa’s politics have evolved in conjunction with national politics. It finds
that there has been an evolution from communal regional party government dominated by the
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to the supremacy of two national parties—the Indian National
Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—that now dominate the politics of the state, while
the situation in New Delhi has moved from national party supremacy to the rise of regional parties at
the expense of national institutions. In that sense Goa’s politics continue to be at variance from the
national pattern. However, its pattern of unstable coalitions and pervasive defections resembles the
national pattern.
Party system, Goa, regional parties, coalition, defections
India's First Party System
For its first 30 years India had what Rajni Kothari (1964) labelled a one-party-dominant system. The
Indian National Congress (INC) was the only party organized in every state. Founded in 1885, it is one
of the oldest political movements in the world (Kochanek, 1968). As the successor to the nationalist
movement, the INC was not an orthodox political party in the European sense depicted by Robert
Michels or Maurice Duverger (Sartori, 1976). As Myron Weiner (1957) described it, the Congress was
an umbrella organization that was a generous shelter. It had a mixed social base and very broad goals.
All the country’s interests were originally represented in the party. Under the leadership of Jawaharlal
Nehru, the organization had a system of consociational politics that involved political accommodation
by regional and interest group elites (Lijphardt, 1996). There was no alternative to or replacement of the
Congress. As William Riker (1962) demonstrated, the most effective opposition consisted of factions
inside the party. The function of opposition parties was to influence the direction of specific polities—
not to form the government (Morris-Jones, 1966). If necessary, the Congress co-opted the opposition
leaders. A first-past-the-post electoral system without proportional representation and a fragmented
Arthur G. Rubinoff is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, The University of Toronto, Canada.
E-mail: arthur.rubinoff@utoronto.ca
Studies in Indian Politics
1(2) 203–212
© 2013 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/2321023013509151

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