has three components
i) The Leaders (ii) The active members (iii) followers
1. Parties contest elections. Elections are fought mainly among the candidates put up by political parties
2. Parties put forward different policies and programmes. Party reduces a vast multitude of opinions into a few basic positions which it supports. A govt. is expected to base its policies on the line taken by the rulig party
3. Parties play a decisive rule in making laws for a country
4. Parties form and run the government
5. Parties that loose in the elections paly the role of the opposition
6. Parties shape public opinion, raise and highlight issues
7. Parties provide people access to government machinery and welfare schemes implemented by governments
1. If all the candidates are independent, no one will be able to make any promises to the people about any major policy changes. Government’s utility will remain ever uncertain, no one will be responsible for how the country will be run
2. Parties are directly linked to representative democracies, gather different views on various issues and to present these to the government, brings various representatives together so that a responsible government can be formed
How many parties should we have
more than 750 parties are registered with the Election Commission of India
Single Party System - only one party is allowed to contest election and run the government. e.g. China. Can not be termed as Democracy, as do not provide any option
Two Party System - Power usually changes between two main political parties. Though many parties exist and contest election, but the two main parties only have a serious chance of forming government. e.g. USA, UK
Multi Party System - More than two parties have a reasonable chance of coming to power either by self or in Alliance
NDA - National Democratic Alliance, headed by BJP
UPA - United Progressive Alliance, headed by Congress
Party system depends on the nature of society, its social and regional divisions, its history of politics and its system of elections
National Political Parties
Country wide parties, have their units in various states which by and large follow the same policies
Are large and established, gets some special facilities, gets a unique election symbol, are recognized by the Election Commission
National Parties are those which secure atleast 6% of the total votes in the Lok Sabha elections or Assembly Elections in 4 states, wins atleast 4 seats in Lok Sabha
There were six National Parties in 2006
Indian National Congress - founded in 1885, played a dominant role in Indian politics, sought to build a modern, secular, democratic republic. Ruling party at center till 1977 and from 1980 to 89. A centrist party, espouses secularism and welfare of weaker sections and minorites, supports economic reforms with a human face. Currently leads the UPA
Bhartiya Janta Party - Founded in 1980, from Bhartiya Jana Sangh. Draws inspiration from India’s ancient culture and values. Promotes cultural nationalism, wants full territorial and political integration of J&K, Uniform Civil Code, ban on Religious Conversions. Came to power in 1998, leads NDA
Bahujan Samaj Party - founded in 1984 by Kanshi Ram. Represents Dalits and Minorites. Gets inspiration by the teachings of Sahu Maharaj, Mahatama Phule, Periyar Ramaswamy Naickar and B.R.Ambedkar. Has main base in U.P and substantial presence in neighboring states. Has formed government in U.P several times
Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) - formed in 1964, believes in Marxism- Leninism, supports Socialism, Secularism, Democracy. Opposes Imperialism and Communalism. Enjoys strong support in W.Bengal, Kerala & Tripura. Has ruled W.Bengal for 30 years
Communist Party of India - formed in 1925, believed in Marxism-Leninism, Secularism & Democracy. Opposes Seccissionism and Communalism. Got split in 1964. Significant presence in Kerala, W.Bengal, Punjab, A.P and TN
Nationalist Congress Party - formed in 1999, from a split in Congress. Espouses Democracy, Gandhian Secularism, Equity, Social justice and Federalism. Want high offices in government to be confined to natural born citizens of the country. Significant presence in Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam
Are commonly referred to as regional parties. Some of these parties are all India parties that happen to have succeeded only is some states.
A party that secures atleast 6 % of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a State and wins atleast two seats is recognized as State Party.
The number and strength of these parties are increasing thus making the Parliament more and more diverse. State parties now get an opportunity to be a part of Coalition government, this has strrngthenend federalism and democracy in our country
Challenges to Political Parties
1. Lack of Internal Democracy - No organisational meetings, no internal elections, hs led to concentration of power in few hands. Those who disagree with the leadership find difficult to continue in the party. Personal loyality to leader becomes more important to loyality to party principles
2. Challenge of Dynastic Succession - Very few ways for an ordinary worker to rise to the top in a party. The top positions are always controlled by members of one family. This is bad for democracy, since people who do not have adequate experience or popular support come to occupy positions of power.
3. Growing Role of Money and Muscle Power - Rich people and companies often influence the policies and decisions of the party
4. Do not seems to offer a meaningful choice - Decline in ideological differences, those who want really different policies have no option available
How can parties be reformed ?
(i) Anti Defection Law - if any MP or MLA changes parties, will loose the seat in the Legislature. This has helped bring defection down, but has made any dissent even more difficult, members have to accept whatever the party leaders decide.
(ii) Supreme Court’s order makes its mandatory for every candidate who contests elections to file an Affidavit giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him
(iii) Election Commission passed an order making it necessary for political parties to hold their organisational elections and file their income tax returns
Suggestions made to reform political parties
(i) a law should be made to regulate the internal affairs of political parties
(ii) to give a minimum number of tickets, about one-third, to women candidates
(iii) there should be state funding of elections
Citizens can play their role in reforming political parties
(i) People can put pressure on political parties through petitions, publicity and agitations
(ii) Political parties can improve if those who want this join political parties. The problem of bad politics can be solved by more and better politics.