NCERT Textbook - Political Parties Class 10 Notes | EduRev

Polity and Constitution (Prelims) by IAS Masters

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UPSC : NCERT Textbook - Political Parties Class 10 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Political Parties
71
Chapter 6
Overview
In this tour of democracy, we have come across political parties several
times. In Class IX, we noticed the role of political parties in the rise of
democracies, in the formation of constitutional designs, in electoral
politics and in the making and working of governments. In this
textbook, we have glanced at political parties as vehicles of federal
sharing of political power and as negotiators of social divisions in
the arena of democratic politics. Before concluding this tour, let us
take a close look at the nature and working of political parties,
especially in our country. We begin by asking two common questions:
Why do we need parties? How many parties are good for a democracy?
In the light of these, we introduce the national and regional political
parties in today’s India and then look at what is wrong with political
parties and what can be done about it.
Political Parties
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Page 2


Political Parties
71
Chapter 6
Overview
In this tour of democracy, we have come across political parties several
times. In Class IX, we noticed the role of political parties in the rise of
democracies, in the formation of constitutional designs, in electoral
politics and in the making and working of governments. In this
textbook, we have glanced at political parties as vehicles of federal
sharing of political power and as negotiators of social divisions in
the arena of democratic politics. Before concluding this tour, let us
take a close look at the nature and working of political parties,
especially in our country. We begin by asking two common questions:
Why do we need parties? How many parties are good for a democracy?
In the light of these, we introduce the national and regional political
parties in today’s India and then look at what is wrong with political
parties and what can be done about it.
Political Parties
2015-16(19/01/2015)
72
Democratic Politics
Why do we need political parties?
P olitical parties are easily one of the most
visible institutions in a democracy. For
most ordinary citizens, democracy is equal
to political par ties. If y ou tr av el to remote
parts of our country and speak to the
less educated citizens, you could come
across people who may not know
anything about our Constitution or about
the nature of our government. But
chances are that they would know
something a bout our political parties . At
the same time this visibility does not mean
popularity . Most people tend to be very
critical of political parties. They tend to
blame parties for all that is wrong with
our democracy and our political life.
Parties have become identified with
social and political divisions .
Therefore, it is natural to ask – do
we need political parties at all? About
hundred years ago there were few
countries of the world that had any
political party. Now there are few that
do not have parties. Why did political
parties become so omnipresent in
democracies all over the world? Let us
first answer what political parties are and
what the y do , befor e we say why we need
them.
Meaning
A political party is a group of people
who come together to contest elections
and hold power in the government. They
agree on some policies and programmes
for the society with a view to promote
the collective good. Since there can be
different views on what is good for all,
So, you agree
with me. Parties
are partial,
partisan and lead
to partitions.
Parties do
nothing but
divide people.
That is their real
function!
Election Commission has officially banned wall
writing by parties during election times. Most
political parties argue that was the cheapest way for
their campaign. These election times used to
create amazing graffiti on the walls. Here are some
examples from Tamil Nadu.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
© (1) M Govarthan (2) A Muralidharan (3) M Moorthy (4) T Singaravelou, The Hindu
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Page 3


Political Parties
71
Chapter 6
Overview
In this tour of democracy, we have come across political parties several
times. In Class IX, we noticed the role of political parties in the rise of
democracies, in the formation of constitutional designs, in electoral
politics and in the making and working of governments. In this
textbook, we have glanced at political parties as vehicles of federal
sharing of political power and as negotiators of social divisions in
the arena of democratic politics. Before concluding this tour, let us
take a close look at the nature and working of political parties,
especially in our country. We begin by asking two common questions:
Why do we need parties? How many parties are good for a democracy?
In the light of these, we introduce the national and regional political
parties in today’s India and then look at what is wrong with political
parties and what can be done about it.
Political Parties
2015-16(19/01/2015)
72
Democratic Politics
Why do we need political parties?
P olitical parties are easily one of the most
visible institutions in a democracy. For
most ordinary citizens, democracy is equal
to political par ties. If y ou tr av el to remote
parts of our country and speak to the
less educated citizens, you could come
across people who may not know
anything about our Constitution or about
the nature of our government. But
chances are that they would know
something a bout our political parties . At
the same time this visibility does not mean
popularity . Most people tend to be very
critical of political parties. They tend to
blame parties for all that is wrong with
our democracy and our political life.
Parties have become identified with
social and political divisions .
Therefore, it is natural to ask – do
we need political parties at all? About
hundred years ago there were few
countries of the world that had any
political party. Now there are few that
do not have parties. Why did political
parties become so omnipresent in
democracies all over the world? Let us
first answer what political parties are and
what the y do , befor e we say why we need
them.
Meaning
A political party is a group of people
who come together to contest elections
and hold power in the government. They
agree on some policies and programmes
for the society with a view to promote
the collective good. Since there can be
different views on what is good for all,
So, you agree
with me. Parties
are partial,
partisan and lead
to partitions.
Parties do
nothing but
divide people.
That is their real
function!
Election Commission has officially banned wall
writing by parties during election times. Most
political parties argue that was the cheapest way for
their campaign. These election times used to
create amazing graffiti on the walls. Here are some
examples from Tamil Nadu.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
© (1) M Govarthan (2) A Muralidharan (3) M Moorthy (4) T Singaravelou, The Hindu
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Political Parties
73
Partisan: A person
who is strongly
committed to a party,
group or faction.
Partisanship is marked
by a tendency to take a
side and inability to take
a balanced view on an
issue.
© RK Laxman - Brushing up the years
parties try to persu ade people why their
policies are better than other s . They seek
to implement these policies by winning
popular support through elections .
Thus, parties reflect fundamental
political di visions in a society . Parties ar e
about a part of the society and thus
involve PARTISANSHIP. Thus a party is
known by which part it stands for, which
policies it supports and whose interests
it upholds. A political party has three
components:
l the leaders,
l the active members and
l the followers
Functions
What does a political party do? Basically ,
political parties fill political offices and
exercise political power. Parties do so
by performing a series of functions:
1 Parties contest elections. In most
democracies, elections are fought mainly
among the candidates put up by political
parties. P arties select their candidates in
different ways. In some countries, such
as the USA, members and supporters
of a party choose its candidates. Now
more and more countries are following
this method. In other countries like India,
top party leaders choose candidates for
contesting elections .
2 Parties put forward different
policies and programmes and the
voters choose from them. Each of us
may have different opinions and views
on what policies are suitable for the
society. But no government can handle
such a large variety of views. In a
democracy, a large number of similar
opinions have to be grouped together
to provide a direction in which policies
can be formulated by the governments.
This is what the parties do. A party
reduces a vast multitude of opinions into
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Page 4


Political Parties
71
Chapter 6
Overview
In this tour of democracy, we have come across political parties several
times. In Class IX, we noticed the role of political parties in the rise of
democracies, in the formation of constitutional designs, in electoral
politics and in the making and working of governments. In this
textbook, we have glanced at political parties as vehicles of federal
sharing of political power and as negotiators of social divisions in
the arena of democratic politics. Before concluding this tour, let us
take a close look at the nature and working of political parties,
especially in our country. We begin by asking two common questions:
Why do we need parties? How many parties are good for a democracy?
In the light of these, we introduce the national and regional political
parties in today’s India and then look at what is wrong with political
parties and what can be done about it.
Political Parties
2015-16(19/01/2015)
72
Democratic Politics
Why do we need political parties?
P olitical parties are easily one of the most
visible institutions in a democracy. For
most ordinary citizens, democracy is equal
to political par ties. If y ou tr av el to remote
parts of our country and speak to the
less educated citizens, you could come
across people who may not know
anything about our Constitution or about
the nature of our government. But
chances are that they would know
something a bout our political parties . At
the same time this visibility does not mean
popularity . Most people tend to be very
critical of political parties. They tend to
blame parties for all that is wrong with
our democracy and our political life.
Parties have become identified with
social and political divisions .
Therefore, it is natural to ask – do
we need political parties at all? About
hundred years ago there were few
countries of the world that had any
political party. Now there are few that
do not have parties. Why did political
parties become so omnipresent in
democracies all over the world? Let us
first answer what political parties are and
what the y do , befor e we say why we need
them.
Meaning
A political party is a group of people
who come together to contest elections
and hold power in the government. They
agree on some policies and programmes
for the society with a view to promote
the collective good. Since there can be
different views on what is good for all,
So, you agree
with me. Parties
are partial,
partisan and lead
to partitions.
Parties do
nothing but
divide people.
That is their real
function!
Election Commission has officially banned wall
writing by parties during election times. Most
political parties argue that was the cheapest way for
their campaign. These election times used to
create amazing graffiti on the walls. Here are some
examples from Tamil Nadu.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
© (1) M Govarthan (2) A Muralidharan (3) M Moorthy (4) T Singaravelou, The Hindu
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Political Parties
73
Partisan: A person
who is strongly
committed to a party,
group or faction.
Partisanship is marked
by a tendency to take a
side and inability to take
a balanced view on an
issue.
© RK Laxman - Brushing up the years
parties try to persu ade people why their
policies are better than other s . They seek
to implement these policies by winning
popular support through elections .
Thus, parties reflect fundamental
political di visions in a society . Parties ar e
about a part of the society and thus
involve PARTISANSHIP. Thus a party is
known by which part it stands for, which
policies it supports and whose interests
it upholds. A political party has three
components:
l the leaders,
l the active members and
l the followers
Functions
What does a political party do? Basically ,
political parties fill political offices and
exercise political power. Parties do so
by performing a series of functions:
1 Parties contest elections. In most
democracies, elections are fought mainly
among the candidates put up by political
parties. P arties select their candidates in
different ways. In some countries, such
as the USA, members and supporters
of a party choose its candidates. Now
more and more countries are following
this method. In other countries like India,
top party leaders choose candidates for
contesting elections .
2 Parties put forward different
policies and programmes and the
voters choose from them. Each of us
may have different opinions and views
on what policies are suitable for the
society. But no government can handle
such a large variety of views. In a
democracy, a large number of similar
opinions have to be grouped together
to provide a direction in which policies
can be formulated by the governments.
This is what the parties do. A party
reduces a vast multitude of opinions into
2015-16(19/01/2015)
74
Democratic Politics
Okay, granted
that we can’t live
without political
parties. But tell
me on what
grounds do
people support a
political party?
a few basic positions which it supports.
A government is expected to base
its policies on the line taken by the
R ULING P ARTY.
3 Parties play a decisive role in making
laws for a country. Formally, laws are
debated and passed in the legislature. But
since most of the members belong to a
party, they go by the direction of the
party leadership, irrespective of their
personal opinions .
4 P arties form and run g ov ernments.
As we noted last year, the big policy
decisions are taken by political executive
that comes from the political parties.
Parties recruit leaders, train them and then
make them ministers to run the
government in the way they want.
5 Those parties that lose in the elections
play the role of opposition to the parties
in power, by voicing different views and
criticising government for its failures or
wrong policies. Opposition parties also
mobilise opposition to the government.
6 Parties shape public opinion. They
raise and highlight issues. Parties have
lakhs of members and activists spread
all o ver the countr y. Many of the pr essure
groups are the extensions of political
parties among different sections of
society. Parties sometimes also launch
movements for the resolution of
problems faced by people. Often
opinions in the society crystallise on the
lines parties take.
7 Parties provide people access to
government machinery and welf are
sc hemes implemented by gover nments .
For an ordinary citizen it is easy to
approach a local party leader than a
government of ficer . Tha t is why, they feel
close to parties even when they do not
fully trust them.  Parties have to be
responsive to people’s needs and
demands. Otherwise people can reject
those parties in the next elections .
Necessity
This list of functions in a sense answers
the question asked above: we need
political par ties because they perform all
these functions. But we still need to ask
why modern democracies cannot exist
without political parties.  We can
understand the necessity of political
parties by imagining a situation without
parties. Every candidate in the elections
will be independent. So no one will be
able to make any promises to the people
about any major policy changes. The
government may be formed, but its
utility will remain ever uncertain. Elected
representatives will be accountable to their
constituency for what they do in the
locality. But no one will be responsible
for how the country will be run.
W e can also think about it b y looking
at the non-party based elections to the
panchayat in many sta tes. Although, the
parties do not contest formally, it is
generally noticed that the village gets split
into more than one faction, each of
whic h puts up a ‘panel’ of its candidates .
This is exactly what the party does. That
is the reason we find political parties in
almost all countries of the world,
whether these countries are big or small,
old or new , developed or developing.
The rise of political parties is directly
linked to the emergence of
representative democracies. As w e have
seen, large societies need representative
democracy.  As societies became large
and complex, they also needed some
agency to gather different views on
various issues and to present these to
the government. They needed
Ruling Party: Political
party that runs
government.
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Page 5


Political Parties
71
Chapter 6
Overview
In this tour of democracy, we have come across political parties several
times. In Class IX, we noticed the role of political parties in the rise of
democracies, in the formation of constitutional designs, in electoral
politics and in the making and working of governments. In this
textbook, we have glanced at political parties as vehicles of federal
sharing of political power and as negotiators of social divisions in
the arena of democratic politics. Before concluding this tour, let us
take a close look at the nature and working of political parties,
especially in our country. We begin by asking two common questions:
Why do we need parties? How many parties are good for a democracy?
In the light of these, we introduce the national and regional political
parties in today’s India and then look at what is wrong with political
parties and what can be done about it.
Political Parties
2015-16(19/01/2015)
72
Democratic Politics
Why do we need political parties?
P olitical parties are easily one of the most
visible institutions in a democracy. For
most ordinary citizens, democracy is equal
to political par ties. If y ou tr av el to remote
parts of our country and speak to the
less educated citizens, you could come
across people who may not know
anything about our Constitution or about
the nature of our government. But
chances are that they would know
something a bout our political parties . At
the same time this visibility does not mean
popularity . Most people tend to be very
critical of political parties. They tend to
blame parties for all that is wrong with
our democracy and our political life.
Parties have become identified with
social and political divisions .
Therefore, it is natural to ask – do
we need political parties at all? About
hundred years ago there were few
countries of the world that had any
political party. Now there are few that
do not have parties. Why did political
parties become so omnipresent in
democracies all over the world? Let us
first answer what political parties are and
what the y do , befor e we say why we need
them.
Meaning
A political party is a group of people
who come together to contest elections
and hold power in the government. They
agree on some policies and programmes
for the society with a view to promote
the collective good. Since there can be
different views on what is good for all,
So, you agree
with me. Parties
are partial,
partisan and lead
to partitions.
Parties do
nothing but
divide people.
That is their real
function!
Election Commission has officially banned wall
writing by parties during election times. Most
political parties argue that was the cheapest way for
their campaign. These election times used to
create amazing graffiti on the walls. Here are some
examples from Tamil Nadu.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
© (1) M Govarthan (2) A Muralidharan (3) M Moorthy (4) T Singaravelou, The Hindu
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Political Parties
73
Partisan: A person
who is strongly
committed to a party,
group or faction.
Partisanship is marked
by a tendency to take a
side and inability to take
a balanced view on an
issue.
© RK Laxman - Brushing up the years
parties try to persu ade people why their
policies are better than other s . They seek
to implement these policies by winning
popular support through elections .
Thus, parties reflect fundamental
political di visions in a society . Parties ar e
about a part of the society and thus
involve PARTISANSHIP. Thus a party is
known by which part it stands for, which
policies it supports and whose interests
it upholds. A political party has three
components:
l the leaders,
l the active members and
l the followers
Functions
What does a political party do? Basically ,
political parties fill political offices and
exercise political power. Parties do so
by performing a series of functions:
1 Parties contest elections. In most
democracies, elections are fought mainly
among the candidates put up by political
parties. P arties select their candidates in
different ways. In some countries, such
as the USA, members and supporters
of a party choose its candidates. Now
more and more countries are following
this method. In other countries like India,
top party leaders choose candidates for
contesting elections .
2 Parties put forward different
policies and programmes and the
voters choose from them. Each of us
may have different opinions and views
on what policies are suitable for the
society. But no government can handle
such a large variety of views. In a
democracy, a large number of similar
opinions have to be grouped together
to provide a direction in which policies
can be formulated by the governments.
This is what the parties do. A party
reduces a vast multitude of opinions into
2015-16(19/01/2015)
74
Democratic Politics
Okay, granted
that we can’t live
without political
parties. But tell
me on what
grounds do
people support a
political party?
a few basic positions which it supports.
A government is expected to base
its policies on the line taken by the
R ULING P ARTY.
3 Parties play a decisive role in making
laws for a country. Formally, laws are
debated and passed in the legislature. But
since most of the members belong to a
party, they go by the direction of the
party leadership, irrespective of their
personal opinions .
4 P arties form and run g ov ernments.
As we noted last year, the big policy
decisions are taken by political executive
that comes from the political parties.
Parties recruit leaders, train them and then
make them ministers to run the
government in the way they want.
5 Those parties that lose in the elections
play the role of opposition to the parties
in power, by voicing different views and
criticising government for its failures or
wrong policies. Opposition parties also
mobilise opposition to the government.
6 Parties shape public opinion. They
raise and highlight issues. Parties have
lakhs of members and activists spread
all o ver the countr y. Many of the pr essure
groups are the extensions of political
parties among different sections of
society. Parties sometimes also launch
movements for the resolution of
problems faced by people. Often
opinions in the society crystallise on the
lines parties take.
7 Parties provide people access to
government machinery and welf are
sc hemes implemented by gover nments .
For an ordinary citizen it is easy to
approach a local party leader than a
government of ficer . Tha t is why, they feel
close to parties even when they do not
fully trust them.  Parties have to be
responsive to people’s needs and
demands. Otherwise people can reject
those parties in the next elections .
Necessity
This list of functions in a sense answers
the question asked above: we need
political par ties because they perform all
these functions. But we still need to ask
why modern democracies cannot exist
without political parties.  We can
understand the necessity of political
parties by imagining a situation without
parties. Every candidate in the elections
will be independent. So no one will be
able to make any promises to the people
about any major policy changes. The
government may be formed, but its
utility will remain ever uncertain. Elected
representatives will be accountable to their
constituency for what they do in the
locality. But no one will be responsible
for how the country will be run.
W e can also think about it b y looking
at the non-party based elections to the
panchayat in many sta tes. Although, the
parties do not contest formally, it is
generally noticed that the village gets split
into more than one faction, each of
whic h puts up a ‘panel’ of its candidates .
This is exactly what the party does. That
is the reason we find political parties in
almost all countries of the world,
whether these countries are big or small,
old or new , developed or developing.
The rise of political parties is directly
linked to the emergence of
representative democracies. As w e have
seen, large societies need representative
democracy.  As societies became large
and complex, they also needed some
agency to gather different views on
various issues and to present these to
the government. They needed
Ruling Party: Political
party that runs
government.
2015-16(19/01/2015)
Political Parties
75
some ways, to bring various
representatives together so that a
responsible government could be
formed. They needed a mechanism
to support or restrain the
government, make policies, justify or
Categorise these photographs by the functions of political parties they
illustrate. Find one photograph or news clipping from your own area for
each of the functions listed above.
oppose them. Political parties fulfill
these needs that every representative
government has. We can say that
parties are a necessary condition for
a democracy.
How many parties should we have?
In a democracy any group of citizens is
free to form a political party.  In this
formal sense, there are a large number
of political parties in eac h country. More
than 750 parties are registered with the
Election Commission of India. But not
all these parties are serious contenders in
the elections. Usually only a handful of
parties are effectively in the race to win
elections and form the government. So
the question, then is: how many major
or effective parties are good for a
democracy?
In some countries, only one party is
allowed to control and run the government.
These are called one-party systems.
1: Activists of BJP Mahila Morcha demonstrate against hike in prices of onions and LPG in
Visakhapatnam.
2: Minister distributes Rs One lakh cheque to the families of hooch victims at their houses.
3: Activists of CPI (M), CPI, OGP and JD (S) take out a rally in Bhubaneswar to protest against
POSCO, the Korean steel company for being permitted by the State Government to export iron
ore from Orissa to feed steel plants in China and Korea.
© (1) C V Subrahmanyan (2) K Gopinathan
(3) A Chakrabarty, The Hindu
1
3
2
2015-16(19/01/2015)
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