- Every party in India has to register with the Election Commission.
- The Commission treats every party as equal to the others, but it offers special facilities to large and established parties.
- They are given a unique symbol and are called, “recognized political parties.”
A registered party is recognised as a National Party only if it fulfils any one of the following three conditions :
- The party wins 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha (as of 2014, 11 seats) from at least 3 different States.
- At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party polls 6% of votes in four States and in addition it wins 4 Lok Sabha seats.
- A party gets recognition as a State Party in four or more states.
Major Political Parties in India :
1. Indian National Congress (INC) –
- Indian National Congress (INC) Founded in 1885.
- After independence it became free India’s premier political party. In the first five General Elections held, the Congress virtually controlled the politics of the country.
2. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) –
- Created in 1980, it champions the socio-religious values of India.
- Since formation, the BJP has been a strong rival of the Indian National Congress.
- It is now in government, and a leading party within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
3. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) –
- The Bahujan Samaj Party is a party formed to represent the OBC, SC, ST and religious minorities, those at the bottom of India’s caste system.
- The BSP was formed in 1984 by two leaders Kanshiram and Mayawati.
- It draws inspiration from the teachings of Sahu Maharaj, Mahatma Phule, PeriyaRamaswami Naicker.
4. Communist Party of India –
- Marxist (CPI-M)-The Communist Party of India (Marxist), usually known as CPI (M), split from the Communist Party of India in 1964.
- It believes in Marxism-Leninism and supports socialism secularism and democracy.
- It opposes imperialism and communalism.
- Its supporters are farmers, agriculture labourers and intelligentsia.
5. Communist Party of India (CPI) –
- It was formed in 1925, believes in Marxism-Leninism, secularism and democracy.
- It believes that parliamentary democracy helps the interests of farmers, the working class, and the poor.
6. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) –
- It was formed on May 25, 1999, by Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangama, and Tari Anwar after they were thrown out of the Congress Party.
- NCP have a major support in Maharashtra state The NCP claims that it supports democracy, Gandhian secularism, equity, social justice and federalism.
7. All India Trinamool Congress (TMC)-
- Trinamool Congress is an Indian political party based in West Bengal.
- Founded on 1 January 1998, the party is led by its founder and current Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee.
- Prior to the 2009 general election it was the sixth largest party in the Lok Sabha with 19 seats; following the 2014 general election, it is currently the fourth largest party in the Lok Sabha with 34 seats.
State or Regional Political Parties
- A party that secures at least six percent of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a state and wins at least two seats is recognized as a state party.
- Regional parties need not be regional in their ideology or outlook.
- Some of these parties are all India parties that happen to have succeeded only in some states.
- Parties like the Samajwadi Party, Sarnata Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal have national level political organization with units in several states.
- Some of these parties like Biju Janata Dal, Sikkim Democratic Front and Mizo National Front are consci0us about their state identity.
What is the requirement laid down by the Election Commission for a political party to be recognized as a ‘State Party’?
[Board Term-II, Foreign Set-I, II, III, 2015]
Ans. A party that secures at least six percent of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a state and wins at least two seats is recognized as a state party.
Challenges Faced By Political Parties and its Reforms
Lack of internal democracy within parties
- Power concentrated in the hands of few.
- No organizational meetings. No keeping of membership register.
- No internal, regular elections.
- Ordinary members do not have access to information, cannot influence decisions.
- Disagreement with the leader leads to ouster from the party.
- Leaders on top have unfair advantage to favor people to them or family members.
- Top positions controlled by family members in most parties.
Bad for democracy.
- Tendency seen all over the world, even in the older democracies.
- Money and muscle power
- During elections this power is very visible.
- Candidates who can raise money are nominated.
- Rich people and companies who give funds have influence on policies.
- Parties do not offer a meaningful choice to the voters.
- There is not much difference in ideology among parties. Example: Labour Party and Conservative Party of Britain.
- They only differ on details of implementation rather than fundamental principles.
- In India also there is not much difference among parties on economic issues.
Reforms of Political parties
- As political parties face these challenges, there is a growing need to reform the system.
- Some of the reform measures taken by the government are: Anti-defection law, affidavit requirement and organizational meetings for political parties.
Some suggestions made to reform political parties and its leaders :
- A law should be made to regulate the internal affairs of political parties. It should be made compulsory for
political parties to maintain a register of its members, follow its own constitution and hold open elections to,the highest posts.
- It should be made mandatory for political parties to give a minimum number of tickets, about one-third, to women candidates.
- There should be state funding of elections. The government should give parties money, petrol, paper,telephone, etc., to support their election expenses.
Questions Asked from this Topic
“Political parties are a necessary condition for a democracy”. Analyse the statement with examples.
[Board Term-II, Outside Delhi Set-I, II, III, 2016]
Why can’t modem democracies exist without the political parties? Explain any four reasons [Board Term-II, 2015, Foreign Set-14/Bl 2011]
“Political parties are necessary condition for a democracy” because :
(i) Without political parties, democracies cannot exist.
(ii) If we do not have political parties, in such a situation every candidate in elections will be independent.
(iii) No one will be able to make any promises to the people about any major policy changes.
(iv) The government may be formed but its utility will remain uncertain.
(v) Elected representatives will be accountable to their constituency for what they do in their
(vi) But no one will be responsible for how the country will run.
(vii) The role of opposition party in a democracy necessitates the existence of political parties.
(viii) As societies become large and complex, they also need some agencies to gather different views on various issues and to present these to the government, that’s why, political parties are needed
2. Differentiate between national and regional parties. Write any four points
|National Parties||Regional Parties|
For example: INC, BJP, BSP, CPI-M, Party,
|A party that secures at least six percent of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a state and wins at least two seats is recognized as a state party.
Samajwadi Party, Sarnata Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal
3. “Lack of internal democracy within parties is the major challenge to political parties all over the
world.” Analyse the statement. [Board Term II SQP 2016; Board Term-II, 2015)
In what way lack of internal democracy is seen in the political parties?
All over the world, there is a tendency of political parties towards the concentration of power in one
or few leaders at the top.
(i) Parties do not keep membership register.
(ii) They do not regularly hold organisational meetings.
(iii) They do not conduct interval elections regularly.
(iv) Ordinary members of the party do not have sufficient information as to what happens inside the party.
(v) As a result, the leaders assume greater power to make decisions in the name of the party