The Secretariat Building, in New Delhi, houses key government offices.
India is the most populous democracy in the world. It has operated under a multi-party system for most of its history. For most of the years since independence, the federal government has been led by the Indian National Congress (INC). Politics in the states have been dominated by national parties like the INC, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and various regional parties. From 1950 to 1990, barring two brief periods, the INC enjoyed a parliamentary majority.
Within Indian political culture, the Indian National Congress is considered centre-left or "liberal" and the Bharatiya Janata Party is considered centre-right or "conservative". The INC was out of power between 1977 and 1980, when the Janata Party won the election owing to public discontent with the state of emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In 1989, a Janata Dal-led National Front coalition in alliance with the Left Front coalition won the elections but managed to stay in power for only two years. As the 1991 elections gave no political party a majority, the INC formed a minority government under Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and was able to complete its five-year term.
The years 1996–1998 were a period of turmoil in the federal government with several short-lived alliances holding sway. The BJP formed a government briefly in 1996, followed by the United Front coalition that excluded both the BJP and the INC. In 1998, the BJP formed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with several other parties and became the first non-Congress government to complete a full five-year term.
In the 2004 Indian elections, the INC won the largest number of Lok Sabha seats and formed a government with a coalition called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), supported by various Left-leaning parties and members opposed to the BJP. The UPA again came into power in the 2009 general election; however, the representation of the Left leaning parties within the coalition has significantly reduced. Manmohan Singh became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 to be re-elected after completing a full five-year term.