Political parties are essential to every democratic system and play the most important role in the electoral process, including the selection of candidates and the conduct of election campaigns. Cultural variety, socioeconomic, ethnic, caste, communal, and religious heterogeneity, nationalist movement traditions, various styles of party leadership, and opposing ideological positions have all had a significant impact on political parties and the party system in India. The two basic kinds of political parties in India are national and state, and the Election Commission of India recognises them based on specific requirements.
- A political party in india is an organization that organizes candidates to run in elections in a certain country.
- Members of a political party are likely to share similar political views, and parties may advocate certain ideological or policy goals.
- As modern party organizations formed and expanded over the world over the previous several centuries, political parties have become a key feature of practically every country’s politics.
- A country with no political parties is highly uncommon.
- Some nations have only one political party, whilst others have many.
- Parties play an essential role in the politics of both autocracies and democracies, while democracies often have more political parties than autocracies.
- Autocracies frequently have a single party run the country, and some political scientists believe that rivalry between two or more parties is a necessary aspect of democracy.
Types of political parties
- Radical or Left parties
- Liberal or centrist parties
- Conservative or Right parties
1. Radical or Left parties
- Which aim at establishing a new order by overthrowing the existing institutions
- For Example: CPI and CPM
2. Liberal or centrist parties
- Which aim at reforming the existing institutions
- Congress is an example of it
3. Conservative or Right parties
- Which belief in status-quo
- For exp. BJP
Types of party systems
1. Single-party system
- In which only one party exists and no opposition is permitted
- This exists in totalitarian countries like China and the former USSR, where only the Communist Party was allowed.
2. Bi-party system
- There are two dominant parties in this kind of system.
- The US and the UK have traditionally been dominated by two major political parties.
3. Multi-party system
- In which there are a number of political parties leading top a coalition governments
- This exists in countries like France, Italy, Germany, and India.
- many political parties are involved and play an active role in politics.
Political Party in India
- India has a multi-party political system. The Election Commission of India (ECI) recognises political parties at the national and state levels based on objective criteria.
- A recognised political party receives benefits such as a reserved party emblem, free broadcast time on state-run television and radio, consultation in the selection of election dates, and influence in the development of electoral laws and regulations.
- Other political parties that want to run in municipal, state, or national elections must register with the Election Commission of India.
- If a registered party meets the appropriate conditions following a Lok Sabha or State legislative assembly election, the ECI will elevate it to a recognised National Party or State Party.
- The ECI reviews the Recognized Party status on a regular basis.
Features of India's party system
- Multiplicity of political parties
- Decline of the one-party dominance and 'Congress system'
- Parties based on multiple social cleavages
- Fragmentation of political parties
- Importance of state political parties
- Centralizing and divisive tendencies
1. Multiplicity of political parties
- Because India has several regions, languages and communities, there are many political parties in India.
- More than 70 political parties contested in India's first elections in 1951, and the number is more now.
- India has several regional parties and a few national parties.
2. Decline of the one party dominance and 'Congress system‘
- Till 1977, when the Congress party first lost an election, political scientists called India's party system one of 'single-party dominance' or the 'Congress system'.
- But the Congress is not longer the dominant political party.
- Since 1989, no party in India has been able to win an absolute majority.
- Since 1989, every government in India has been based on coalitions of several political parties.
- At present the United Progressive Alliance, a coalition of the Congress, the DMK, the Trinamool Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, and others, is the ruling coalition.
4. Parties based on multiple social cleavages
- Some are formed on the basis of a regional identities, others on the basis of caste, and some are based on political ideas or philosophy.
- The SP, the BSP, and the Akali Dal, are examples.
5. Fragmentation of political parties
- There are frequent splits and mergers.
- The Congress itself has gone through several splits and mergers.
6. Importance of state political parties
- In states like UP and Tamil Nadu, the national political parties have only a weak presence.
- Political parties which are based in states, like the DMK and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have become more important because of coalition politics.
7. Centralizing and divisive tendencies
- While there are multiple political divisions in India, this has made it necessary for parties which want to gain power to look for support from many sections of society.
- Even the BJP has tried to reach across to people of other religions and languages in order to gain political power in the centre.
Recognition of a party
- Political parties are registered by the Elections commission for the purpose of elections
- Election commission recognised them as national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance.
If the following conditions are fulfilled:
- If it secures 6% of the valid votes polled in the Assembly election of the state and in addition it wins 2 seats in the concerned LA
- If it secures 6% votes in LS election in the state and wins 1 seat in the LS from the State
- If it wins 3% or 3 seats in the Assembly whichever is more
- If it wins 1 seat in LS for every 25 seats or any fraction thereof allotted to the state at the LS election from the state
If following conditions are fulfilled:
- If it secures 6% votes in LS or LA election and in addition it wins 4 seats in the LS from any state or states
- If it 3% of LS seats and these candidates from 3 states
- If it is recognised as a state party in 4 states
- The Congress Party was India’s main political party from 1952 to 1964, and the country’s democracy was essentially a one-party system known as the ‘Congress system.’
- The primacy of the Congress system was challenged after Jawahar Lal Nehru’s death and the 1967 elections.
- The Congress lost majorities in eight states, and its Lok Sabha majority fell to 54 percent. Regional parties sprang up all throughout the country.
- A new alliance led by the Janata Party emerged in 1977.
- This culminated in the establishment of a multi-party system in India.
- Instead of forging an ideological coalition, a number of minor parties teamed together to take on Congress.
- There has been a multi-party system and coalition politics in place since 1989.
Eligibility For Status Of Political Party in India
1. Criteria for State Party
- If it receives at least 6% of valid votes cast in a general election for the Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assembly of the State, as well as at least one Lok Sabha seat or two Legislative Assembly seats.
- If it receives at least 8% of the legitimate votes cast in a general election for the Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assembly of a state.
- If it receives at least 3% of the total number of members in a state’s Legislative Assembly, or 3 seats in the Legislative Assembly, whichever is greater.
- If it gets at least one Lok Sabha seat out of the 25 seats allotted to states in the Lok Sabha.
- At the moment, the Election Commission has recognised 64 political parties as State Political Parties.
2. Criteria for National Political Party (NPP)
- If it receives at least 6% of valid votes cast in a general election to the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly of the State in four or more states, as well as at least four seats in the Lok Sabha from one or more states.
- If it receives at least 8% of valid votes cast in a general election to the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly of a state in four or more states.
- If it wins at least 2% of the total number of Lok Sabha seats from three or more states.
- Currently, the Election Commission has recognised eight political parties as National Political Parties.
- The National People’s Party (NPP) has been named India’s eighth national party by the Election Commission of India, making it the first regional party from the northeast to receive this accolade.
Emergence of opposition parties
- Since the 1950s, opposition parties have formed.
- They were crucial in politics and sustaining the democratic character of the country, as they kept the governing party in check and shifted the power balance inside Congress.
- By giving an alternative, an anti-democratic regime was avoided.
- Democratic politics used to be more inclusive. With the intensity of party competition, political respect for the opposition has dwindled.
Functions Of Political Parties In India
- They nominate candidates during elections.
- They run campaigns to get people to vote for their preferred candidates in elections.
- They utilize manifestos to communicate their aims and agendas to voters.
- Those who win an election with a majority form the government and enact and execute policies; those who win an election with a majority form the government and enact and implement policies.
- Those who are not in power create an opposition and hold the administration accountable.
- When they are in the minority in the legislature, they form an opposition and continue to put pressure on the administration to improve governance.
- They educate the public and help to build and shape public opinion.
- They articulate the wishes of the people and convey them to the administration.
Significance of Political Parties in Democracy
What are the Issues associated with Political Parties in India?
- A political party is an organized collection of persons that have shared ideas on governance and work as a political unit to gain control of government in order to advance the agenda and policies they advocate.
- Political parties keep the people in touch with those who represent them, whether in office or in opposition.
- Political parties in India are unconstitutional, but they are the political system’s lifeblood.
National Parties in India
- The Indian Constitution is one of the world’s longest constitutions.
- It is amazing that such a careful Constitution failed to include political parties, key participants in the political system, in its provisions for constitutional control.
- The sole main statutory provision dealing with political parties in India is Section 29A(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- The majority of the parties are explicitly caste or religious in nature.
- Their financial situation is murky and ambiguous.
- Except for a handful, such as the CPI(M), there are no regular in-party elections in Indian parties.
Indian National Congress
Communist Party of India
Corn & sickle
Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Hammer, Sickle & star
Bharatiya Janata Party
Bahujan Samaj Party Party
Rashtriya Janta Dal
Nationalist Congress Party