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How to run a coalition

By A coalition, be it a government, a football team, an NGO or an enterprise requires a few fundamentals. The first, a common thread.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2012 22:35 IST
Ambika Soni

By A coalition, be it a government, a football team, an NGO or an enterprise requires a few fundamentals. The first, a common thread. A coalition requires a common thought, conviction or commitment to a cause or goal which strings the group together. Without this commitment, disparate elements prevail and this entity cannot last for long. A shared belief among different parties, political or otherwise, helps a group to stake their claim and be heard.

The second fundamental is that for effective functioning, a partnership needs mechanisms for interaction, communication and evolving a consensus. It’s important to discuss issues as they come up. The group leader cannot take suo moto decisions without consulting their partners. The third is time-bound objectives. Take cognisance of challenges and constantly monitor progress.

An alliance involves a spirit of give and take. It’s not always the largest or strongest player who has their way. Elect a leader. It’s that leader’s duty to ensure that at each stage, even the smallest player has a say and plays an integral part in the team.

Working in a coalition is time-consuming. It requires agreement between different members and so you can’t be impatient. Sometimes delivery gets delayed but that’s understandable. The leadership naturally has more concerns as the face of the coalition. A lack of performance can lead to loss of face and this could be detrimental in the future.

There’s also a fair share of walking the tightrope. You can put errant partners in their place by the simple threat, real or perceived as it may be, of a new partner. But if you lose both in the process, the entire coalition will fail.

Soni is Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
As told to Samar Khurshid