India's Domestic Political Setting [February 14, 2013]   [open pdf - 0B]

This document was "[p]repared by the Congressional Research Service for distribution to multiple congressional offices, February 14, 2013". From the document: "India, the world's most populous democracy, is a federal republic where the bulk of executive power rests with the prime minister and his or her cabinet (the Indian president is a ceremonial chief of state with limited executive powers). Most of India's 13 prime ministers have come from the country's Hindi-speaking northern regions and all but two have been upper-caste Hindus. The 543-seat Lok Sabha (People's House) is the locus of national power, with directly elected representatives from each of the country's 28 states and 7 union territories. A smaller upper house, the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), may review, but not veto, most legislation, and has no power over the prime minister or the cabinet. National and state legislators are elected to five-year terms. The most recent parliamentary elections were held in 2009 when the incumbent Indian National Congress Party (hereinafter 'Congress') led its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition to a convincing victory, as it had five years earlier. Congress, the party of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, dominated the country's politics from 1947-1977. Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mohandas Gandhi), and her son, Rajiv, also served as prime minister. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government from 1999 to 2004 under Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee and his deputy, L.K. Advani. Vajpayee's was India's only non-Congress government to complete a five-year term."

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