[Model Answer QP2022 GS2]“While the national political parties in India favour centralisation, the regional parties are in favour of State autonomy”. Comment

Even as Indian federalism has a bias for the Union government, states have also sought to assert their interests and influence over the years, whether in times of one-party dominance or multi-party coalition politics. 

National political parties in India favour centralisation

  1. As Guardians of Federalism: The national parties feel that by centralisation of powers and policies, the constitutional bias towards the centre is justified. 
  2. Bargaining Federalism: The national parties want to keep the State at check by restricting their powers in planning and policy making. This ensures they have the upper bargaining power vis a vis states. 
  3. Top Down Approach to planning: This strategy follows planning and allocation of resources from the top of the hierarchy to the ones below.

The regional parties are in favour of State autonomy

  1. Financial autonomy: Helps them not only plan but also utilize funds to implement these welfare programs better.
  2. As a matter of right: The constitution though is biased towards the Centre, it has provided States its own independent constitutional existence. Hence the regional parties are fighting to get this space as a matter of right.
  3. Bottom Up approach to planning: To realise the true powers of decentralization, States demand more autonomy. Being close to regional problems, they are more experienced to come out with an area or issue specific solutions that are more effective than the planning dome by the centre.

National Parties favoring decentralisation and respecting Sate Autonomy

  1. The 73rd and 74th amendment provides for democratic decentralization.
  2. The 14th finance commission devolved 42% of the funds from the Central pool to the States.
  3. Implementation of GST: One Tax, One nation wherein Centre and State, both gave up their indirect taxes to frame policies together. 
  4. NITI AYOG replaces the planning commission. NITI AYOG placed the voice of the States at the upper pedestal.

India adopted a multi party system because of the social and geographical diversity of the nation. Only such a system could accommodate a huge population like India. Though there are some issues that remain, overall the national parties and state parties have worked in unison when it comes to the welfare of the people and overall development of the country. 

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