Welcome remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, Vivekananda International Foundation, at the Vimarsh talk on the release of the book Politics of Opportunism by RNP Singh, 27 December 2019.

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to today’s function to release Mr. RNP Singh’s latest book titled Politics of Opportunism: Regional Parties, Coalitions, Centre-State Relations in India. Vivekananda International Foundation and Vitasta Publishing have brought out the book jointly.’

Many congratulations to the author for his new book. As you know, Sh. RNP Singh is a prolific writer having written many books in the past. Earlier this year, we had released his seminal work on Sardar Patel. His book on Frontier Gandhi Abdul Ghaffar Khan is nearly ready and will be published shortly. Mr. Singh is a Senior Fellow at the Vivekananda International foundation, Chairperson of the College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University, and a former officer of the Intelligence Bureau. He has written books on rights, Bangladesh, ISI, Nehru and César Patel. The VIF is privileged to have him with us as Senior Fellow.

I am grateful to Sh. S Gurumurhthy for having agreed to release this book. Shri Gurumurthy ji is the Chairman of the Vivekananda National Foundation and a constant source of inspiration and guidance for us. He is well-known in the academic, corporate and political circles. A chartered accountant by profession, he has been associated with the Indian corporate world for a long time. He also lectures at IIT Mumbai and other places on civilization, culture, history, politics and Indian economy. Sh. Gurumurthyji has contributed seminal papers on these subjects. He is currently the editor of the Tamil weekly Tughlaq. Today, he has come all the way from Chennai for this function. Thank you sir for being with us today.

Dear friends,

Politics of Opportunism is a comprehensive book on the rise of regional political parties in India. The author has analysed the decline of the Indian National Congress and the rise of regional parties. He has gone into the circumstances in which the previous coalition governments were formed and how they fared and performed. In the process, the author has provided a highly readable account of the Indian politics since independence, keeping a focus on the regional parties.

The rise of regional parties and the formation of coalition governments in the centre and states has deeply impacted the quality of politics in India. According to him, the rise of regional parties was inevitable because of the massive diversity in India. At the same time, Indian politics has become highly opportunistic, devoid of ideologies and is focussed on narrow identities.

Healthy federalism is key to India’s success. But, quite often, the national interest is overlooked as the parties, for their survival, are focused on narrow issues which garner them votes. Regional parties often emerge as king makers at the time of government formation at the centre and the states. This has an inevitable impact on the quality of governance.

The author goes in detail of the evolution of centre-state relations since 1989. In his view, the age of coalitions will last for long as no single party is capable of ruling a diverse country such as India. This will require a greater effective ordination among parties. A breakdown in trust, which often happens among the parties, leads to political instability. At the same time, the regional parties should also develop an understanding and commitment to the larger national interests.

The book is very easy to read and yet it contains deep analysis of Indian politics. It is also a timely book in the backdrop of current political developments in the country. The students of politics will find the book very useful.

I would request Sh. Gurumurthyji to kindly release the book. Thereupon the author would make a few remarks. Then I will request Sh. Gurumurthy ji to give his address.

Thank you.

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