Context of the 1990s
(i) After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister and he led the Congress to a massive victory in the Lok Sabha elections held in 1984.
(ii) The decade of the eighties witnessed five developments that left a long-lasting impact on our politics. These were:
(a) The defeat of the Congress party in the elections held in 1989.
(b) Rise of the ‘Mandal Issue’ in national politics.
(c) The economic policy (also known as new economic policy) followed by various governments.
(d) A number of events culminated in the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya (known as Babri Masjid) in December, 1992.
(e) The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 led to a change in leadership of the Congress.
Decline of Congress
(i) During late sixties, the dominance of the Congress party was challenged, but the Congress under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, managed to re-establish its predominant position.
(ii) After elections of 1989 political development in India initiated an era of coalition governments at the centre in which regional parties played a crucial role in forming ruling alliances.
(i) Elections in 1989 led to the new development in Indian politics and era of coalition government started.
(ii) Regional parties played played an important role in the Union front government that came to power in 1996.
(iii) The BJP continued to consolidate its position in the elections of 1991 and 1996 and it emerged as the largest party in the 1996 election and was invited to from government.
(iv) With the elections of 1989, a long phase of coalition politics began in India. Since then, there have been nine governments at the centre, all of which have either been coalition governments or minority governments supported by other parties.
Political Rise of Other Backward Classes
(i) When the support for the Congress among many sections of the ‘backward castes’ had declined, this created a space for non-Congress parties to get their support.
(ii) Many of the constituents of the Janata party, like the Bhartiya Kranti Dal and the Samyukta party, had a powerful rural base among some sections of the OBC.
(i) The period of 1980s-90s saw the emergence of many parties that sought better opportunities for OBCs in education and employment and also raised the question of the share of power enjoyed by the OBCs.
(ii) The mandal commission was set-up to investigate the extent of educational and social backwardness among various sections of Indian society.
(iii) After investigation the commission recommended reserving 27 per cent of seats in education institutions and government jobs for these groups.
(iv) In August 1990, the national front government implemented the recommendations of the commission.
(i) 1980 onwards the caste based politics dominated Indian politics. In 1989 and 1991, this was the first time in independent India that a political party (BSP) supported by Dalit voters had achieved a landmark political success.
In many parts of India, Dalit politics and OBC politics have developed independently and often in competition with each other.
Communalism, Secularism, Democracy
(i) During 1990s, the politics based on religious identity emerged in India and debate about secularism and democracy came in currency. After Shah Bano case of 1985 BJP emerged as a ‘Hindutva Party’.
(ii) The Babri Masjid was a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya and was built by Mir Baqi-Mughal emperor Babur’s General.
(iii) Some Hindus believe that it was built after demolishing a temple for Lord Rama.
(iv) The dispute took the form of a court case and has continued for many decades.
(v) The Babri Masjid was demolished on 6th December, 1992. After demolition, the news led to clashes between the Hindus and Muslims in many parts of the country.
(vi) In February-March, 2002, large-scale violence against Muslims took place in Gujarat. The violence began from Godhra.
(vii) This incident alert us to the dangers involved in using religious sentiments for political purposes.
Emergence of a New Consensus
(i) Analysis shows that since 1989 election, the votes polled by the two parties-Congress and BJP do not add upto more than 50 per cent.
(ii) The political competition during the nineties is divided between the coalition led by BJP and the coalition led by the Congress.
Lok Sabha Elections 2004
(i) In 2004 election, the coalition led by BJP National Democratic Alliance was defeated and new coalition led by the Congress, known as the United Progressive Alliance came to power.
(i) After 1990a consensus appears to have emerged among most parties which consists of following elements.
(a) Agreement on new economic policies.
(b) Acceptance of the political and social claims of the backward castes.
(c) Acceptance of the role of state level parties in governance of the country.
(d) They also work as a pressure groups in Indian politics.
(e) Sometimes regional parties influence the Central Government to divert more annual budget funds to their states at the expense of other states.