|Table of contents
|Meaning and Types
|Party System in India
|Conditions for Recognition as a National Party
|Conditions for Recognition as a State Party
Political parties are voluntary associations or organized groups of individuals who share the same political views and who try to gain political power through constitutional means and who desire to work to promote the national interest.
In modern democracies, parties are categorized as reactionary (preserving old institutions), conservative (upholding the status quo), liberal (aiming at reform), and radical (seeking a new order). Political scientists classify them as leftists, centrists, and rightists. In India, CPI and CPM are leftist, Congress is centrist, and BJP is rightist. Party systems include one-party (sole ruling party, no opposition), two-party (two major parties, as in the USA and Britain), and multi-party (numerous parties, as in France, Switzerland, and Italy).
Political Parties in India
The Indian party system has the following characteristic features:
India's vast size, diverse society, universal adult franchise, unique political processes, and other factors have led to formation of multiple of political parties. It holds the record for the highest number of political parties globally, encompassing various ideologies such as left, center, right, communal, and non-communal. As a result, hung Parliaments, assemblies, and coalition governments are commonplace.
Despite the existence of a multi-party system in India, the political landscape was predominantly controlled by the Congress for an extended period. Renowned political analyst Rajni Kothari referred to the Indian party system as a 'one-party dominance system' or the 'Congress system.' However, the Congress's dominance began to wane from 1967 onward, giving way to the emergence of regional and other national parties such as Janata (1977), Janata Dal (1989), and the BJP (1991), ultimately leading to the establishment of a competitive multi-party system.
Except for the HJP and the two communist parties (CPI and CPM), most other political parties in India don't have a clear ideology. They are very similar in their ideas and plans. Almost every party supports democracy, secularism, socialism, and Gandhism. But, above all, every party, even those claiming to have strong beliefs, is mainly focused on gaining power. So, politics has become more about specific problems rather than sticking to certain principles, and effectiveness has taken over dedication to ideals.
Many times, political parties in India revolve around a prominent leader who becomes more significant than the party itself and its beliefs. The parties are recognized by their leaders rather than their stated goals. This is why people say there are more political personalities than actual political parties in India. In simpler terms, the focus often shifts from party principles to the influence of individual leaders.
In Western countries, political parties are usually created based on social, economic, and political ideas. However, in India, many parties are formed around factors like religion, caste, language, culture, and race. These parties often focus on advancing the interests of specific communities, which can weaken the overall public interest.
A notable aspect of the Indian party system is the rise of numerous regional parties and their increasing influence, with many now leading state governments. Initially confined to regional politics, these parties have gained prominence on the national stage, especially in coalition governments at the center.
In India, political parties often face issues like factionalism, defections, and splits, mainly driven by the desire for power and material gains. This trend became more common after the fourth general elections in 1967, causing political instability at both the national and state levels. The frequent changes and shifts in party affiliations have led to the fragmentation and disintegration of political parties.
A strong Opposition is crucial for the functioning of India's parliamentary democracy, serving as a check on autocratic tendencies within the ruling party and offering an alternative government. Unfortunately, due to a lack of unity and frequent conflicting positions, political parties have struggled to contribute constructively to the nation-building process.
At present (2016), a party is recognized as a national party if any of the following conditions is fulfilled:
At present (2016), a party is recognized as a state party in a state if any of the following conditions is fulfilled:
|1. What is the meaning of party system in India?
|2. What are the types of party systems in India?
|3. What are the conditions for recognition as a national party in India?
|4. What are the conditions for recognition as a state party in India?
|5. What is the summary of Laxmikanth's book on Political Parties for UPSC exam?