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POLITICAL SYSTEM IN INDIA


India with a population of around a billion and an electorate of over 700 million -is the world’s largest democracy and, for all its faults and flaws, this democratic system stands in marked contrast to the democratic failures of Pakistan and Bangladesh which were part of India until 1947. Unlike the American political system and the British political system which essentially have existed in their current form for centuries, the Indian political system is a much more recent construct dating from India’s independence from Britain in 1947. India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, is modelled on the British House of Commons, but its federal system of government borrows from the experience of the United States, Canada and Australia.
  • The Constitution was framed keeping in mind the socioeconomic progress of the country. India follows a parliamentary form of democracy, and the government is federal in structure. In the Indian political system, the President is the constitutional head of the executive of the Union of India.
  • The real executive power is with the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. According to Article 74(1) of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers under the leadership of the Prime Minister is responsible to aid and assist the President in exercising the President's functions. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha, the House of People.

    In states, the Governor is the representative of the President, though the real executive power is with the Chief Minister along with his Council of Ministers. For a given state, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible for the elected legislative assembly of the state. The Constitution administers the sharing of legislative power between Parliament and the State Legislatures. The Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution.

  • Politics of India take place in a framework of a federal parliamentary multi-party representative democratic republic modeled after the British Westminster System. The Prime Minister of India is the head of government, while the President of India is the formal head of state and holds substantial reserve powers, placing him or her in approximately the same position as the British monarch.

  • Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Parliament of India. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Multi-party System


  • A multi-party system is a system in which three or more political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition. Unlike a single-party system, it encourages the general constituency to form multiple distinct, officially recognized groups, generally called political parties. 

  • Each party competes for votes from the enfranchised constituents. A multiparty system is essential for representative democracies as it prevents the leadership of a single party from setting policy without challenge.

  • If the government includes an elected Congress or Parliament, the parties may share power according to Proportional Representation or the First-past-the-post system. In Proportional Representation, each party wins a number of seats proportional to the number of votes it receives. In first-past-the-post, the electorate is divided into a number of districts, each of which selects one person to fill one seat by a plurality of the vote.

  • First-past-the-post tends towards a two-party system, where only two parties have a real chance of electing their candidates to office, a phenomenon known as Duverger’s law. Proportional Representation, on the other hand, does not have this tendency and allows multiple major parties to arise.

  • Notable examples of nations with a multi-party system include Taiwan, Germany, Denmark, India, Indonesia, France, Kosovo, Israel, and the United Kingdom. These nations often see multiple political parties forming coalitions for effective governance.

  • India has a federal form of government, with the central government having greater power in relation to its states. India's political system is modeled after the British parliamentary system. The country has experienced a shift in its political landscape, moving from a dominance by the Indian National Congress (INC) to the emergence of several regional parties that cater to their specific constituencies. The INC ruled at the center for most of the years since independence, with the political scenario changing in the mid-'70s with the launch of the Janata Party. In recent times, India's electoral politics have been characterized by the presence of several regional parties, altering the traditional political landscape.

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National Parties


  • Indian National Congress (INC, led by Party President Sonia Gandhi)
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, led by Party President Nitin Gadkari)
  • Bahujan Samai Party ( BSP, led by Party President Mayawati)
  • Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM, led by Party General Secretary Prakash Karat)
  • Nationalist Congress Party (NCP, led by Party President Sharad Pawar)
  • Communist Party of India (CPI, led by Party General Secretary AB Bardhan)
  • Jagdeep Coalition (JDC, led by Party President Kirik Vedprakash)

Regional Parties


  • All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK, “All India Anna Federation for Progress of Dravidians”) (Tamil Nadu, Puducherry)
  • Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (“ Federation for Progress of Dravidians”) (Tamil Nadu, Puducherry)
  • Indian National Lok Dal ( “Indian National People’s Party”) (Haryana)
  • Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Maharashtra
  • Indian Union Muslim League (Kerala, registered as ‘Muslim League Kerala State Committee’)
  • Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripra (Tripura)
  • Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (Jammu and Kashmir)
  • Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (Jammu and Kashmir)
  • Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (Jammu and Kashmir)
  • Janata Dal (Secular) (“People’s Party (Secular)”) (Karnataka, Kerala)
  • Janathipathiya Samrakshana Samithy ( “Association for Defence of Democracy”) (Kerala)
  • Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) (“Jharkhand Liberation Front”) (Jharkhand, Orissa)
  • Kerala Congress (Mani) (Kerala)
  • Kerala Congress (Kerala)
  • Lok Jan Shakti Party (Bihar)
  • Lok Satta Party (Andhra pradesh)
  • Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (Goa)
  • Manipur People’s Party (Manipur)
  • Maraland Democratic Front (Mizoram)
  • Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Tamil Nadu)
  • Meghalaya Democratic Party (Meghalaya)
  • Mizo National Front (Mizoram)
  • Mizoram People’s Conference (Mizoram)
  • Nagaland Peoples Front (Nagaland)
  • Pattali Makkal Katchi (Tamil Nadu, Puducherry)
  • Pragatisheel Indira Congress (PIC) , West Bengal)
  • Praja Rajyam Party (“People’s Rule Party”) (Andhra pradesh)
  • Rashtriya Lok Dal (“National People’s Party”) (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Republican Party of India (Athvale)
  • Republican Party of India (Gavai)
  • Revolutionary Socialist Party (West Bengal)
  • Shiromani Akali Dal (Party of Akal -Authority for the Political matters of Sikhs) (Punjab)
  • Shiv Sena ( “Army of Shivaji”) (Maharashtra)
  • Sikkim Democratic Front (Sikkim)
  • Telangana Rashtra Samithi (“Telengana National Association”) (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Telugu Desam Party (“Telugu Nation Party”) (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Trinamool Congress (“TMC”) (West Bengal)
  • United Democratic Party (Meghalaya)
  • United Goans Democratic Party (Goa)
  • Uttarakhand Kranti Dal ( “Uttarakhand Revolution Party”) (Uttarakhand)
  • Swadharm Parti (“A Indian Party”) (All People Party) (India)
  • Zoram Nationalist Party (Mizoram)
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COALITION POLITICS


  • A coalition government is one in which several political parties must cooperate to run a country or region. It is often considered a weak form of government due to the absence of a majority party, leading to the necessity of making concessions and forming compromises to approve policies.
  • Well-known countries with coalition governments include Germany, Italy, India, Ireland, and Israel, among others. Coalition governments can be entertaining and volatile, with outcomes often uncertain compared to countries with only two major political parties.
  • In India, a diverse country with different ethnic, linguistic, and religious communities, a coalition government is seen as beneficial for achieving consensus-based politics and reflecting the popular opinion of the electorate. However, the effectiveness of coalition politics in India has been a subject of debate.
  • Coalition governments in India have become more prevalent since the decline of the Dominant Party System. The states, particularly Kerala, have shown a firmness towards coalition governments. However, concerns exist regarding the efficiency of decision-making, stability, and the potential for underhanded deals and corruption in coalition politics.
  • The benefit of a coalition government is that it brings together members with varying backgrounds and ideologies, leading to more comprehensive policy-making. However, in India, disagreements among parties on governmental policy paths often hinder consensus, making decision-making slow.
  • Despite challenges, proponents argue that a coalition government provides an accurate representation of the people's will and can lead to greater unity, as members from diverse backgrounds come together to create policies in the best interest of all. In times of national transition or crisis, coalition governments, as seen in Iraq in 2004, can be formed to bring different leaders together for the benefit of the entire population.
  • In India, the transition from one-party rule occurred after 1967, with the rise of regional parties influencing national politics. The dominance of the Indian National Congress (INC) came to an end, and coalition politics gained prominence. However, the effectiveness of coalition governments in India has been a subject of both praise and criticism. While they enhance democratic legitimacy, representativeness, and national unity, they also face challenges of instability and frequent elections.
  • In conclusion, while coalition governments provide a platform for diverse voices and consensus-based politics, their effectiveness in India depends on the ability of political parties to moderate their ideologies, accommodate each other's interests, and work towards stable governance.
  • Criteria for Recognition of a Party 

    • A political party shall be treated as a recognised political party in a State, if and only if either the conditions specified in Clause (A) are, or the condition specified in Clause (B) is, fulfilled by that party and not otherwise, that is to say:
      1. has been engaged in political activity for a continuous period of five years; and
      2. has, at the last general election in that State to the House of the People, or, as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, returned:
      3. At least one member to the House of the People for every twenty-five members of that House or any fraction of that number from that State;
      4. At least one member to the Legislative Assembly of that State for every thirty members of that Assembly or any fraction of that number;
      5. That the total number of valid votes polled by all the contesting candidates set up by such party at the last general election in the State to the House of the People, or as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, is not less than six percent of the total number of valid votes polled by all the contesting candidates at such general election in the State.
      6. If a political party is treated as a recognised political party in four or more States, it shall be known as a ‘National Party’ throughout the whole of India, but only so long as that political party continues to fulfill there after the conditions for recognition in four or more States on the results of any subsequent general election either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of any State.
      7. If a political party is treated as a recognised political party in less than four States, it should be known as a ‘State Party’ in the State or States in which it is so recognised, but only so long as that political party continues to fulfill there after the conditions for recognition on there sults of any subsequent general election to the House of the People or, as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, in the said State or States.

The document NCERT Summary: Political System | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Polity for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on NCERT Summary: Political System - Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

1. What is the political system in India?
Ans. The political system in India is a federal parliamentary democratic republic, where the President of India is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. It follows a multi-party system, with elections held at regular intervals to elect representatives at various levels of government.
2. What is coalition politics in India?
Ans. Coalition politics in India refers to the formation of alliances or partnerships between multiple political parties to gain a majority and form the government. Since no single party usually obtains a majority in the Indian Parliament, coalition governments are commonly formed through negotiations and compromises between different parties.
3. How does coalition politics affect governance in India?
Ans. Coalition politics in India can have both positive and negative effects on governance. On one hand, it allows for representation of diverse interests and regional parties, promoting pluralism in decision-making. On the other hand, it can lead to political instability, policy paralysis, and compromise on governance due to the need for constant negotiation and consensus-building among coalition partners.
4. What are the advantages of coalition politics in India?
Ans. The advantages of coalition politics in India include the representation of diverse interests, especially those of regional and smaller parties, in the decision-making process. It promotes inclusivity, prevents the dominance of a single party, and encourages consensus-building on policies. It also provides an opportunity for parties with different ideologies to work together for the benefit of the nation.
5. What are the challenges faced by coalition governments in India?
Ans. Coalition governments in India face several challenges, such as maintaining stability and avoiding frequent changes in leadership. The need for constant negotiation and compromise can lead to policy paralysis and delays in decision-making. Additionally, coalition partners may have conflicting interests, which can hinder the implementation of effective governance measures.
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