Party system in India – Introduction

Party system in India  In the modern democratic age, the struggle for power takes place openly and not in disguise. So, the political parties have a special significance today. The political parties prepare people for election, spread political knowledge in them, contest elections and elect representatives.

Meaning of Political Parties – 

A political party is a group of persons who organize themselves on the basis of the fixed program and try to capture the power of the government through constitutional means in order to give practical shape to their program. 

Nature of Party system in India

party system in india
party system in india

The nature of the political institution or party system of every country is the product of the political culture. Following are the characteristics of the nature of party system in india – 

a) Registration of Political Parties – 

Under an amendment made in the Representation of the People Act 1951, in December 1988, provision has been made for the registration of every political party.

For this purpose, all political parties within 60 days and new political parties within 30 days will give an application for registration to the election commission.

b) Multi-Party System in India

In India, there is a multi-party system and the number of parties at the national level keeps on changing from time to time. At present, the election commission has recognized the following parties as National Political Parties – 

a) Indian National Congress

b) Bharatiya Janata Party

c) Communist Party of India (Marxist)

d) Communist Party of India

e) Bahujan Samaj party

f) Nationalist Congress Party

c) End of the Era of One Party Dominance – 

Another nature of the party system in india is the end of the era of one-party dominance. Since Independence, the Congress party dominated at the centre and in most parts of the states up to 1977 and from 1980 and 1989. But the elections held in 1989,1991,1996,1998,1999, 2004,10th,11th,12th,13th,14th and 15th Lok Sabha have proved that the era of one-party dominance has come to an end.

In several states, also the coalition governments are running smoothly. But in the election of the 16 Lok Sabha, after a gap of 30 years, a single Party (BJP) was able to get an absolute majority to form the government by winning 282 seats.

d) Multi-Party Character of Opposition –  

Strong and well-organized opposition is essential for the success of parliamentary democracy, whereas, in India, there is an absence of it. Since independence till 1977 and again from 1980 to 1989 there has been the dominance of a single party and opposition was quite weak.

Though in 1989, the period of the one-party dominance came to an end, yet the opposition is still weak. At present both at the national and state level, there are so many national and regional political parties playing the role of the opposition but they are not united on various political issues nor they have any common program.

e) Lack of Proper Organisation –

Another nature of the party system in india is the lack of proper organization. The organization is the life and soul of political parties. But there are political parties in India that have failed to maintain their organization at the provincial level.

Hindu Mahasabha, Muslim League, Swatantrata party, National socialist Congress, Republican Party are such parties. These parties cannot propagate their policies and programs properly.

f) Groupism within the party system of India – 

In India, every political party is a victim of groupism very badly. Groupism destroys the unity of a party and it gets divided into different parties.

There was a split in the Congress party for 4 times –  in 1969, 1978, 1995 and 1999.

Also, Janata Dal came into being in 1989 but got divided five times in 1990,1992,1993,1994 and 1997.

g) Use of Extra-Constitutional means to get power – 

To get political power with the use of constitutional methods is the legitimate right of the political parties and for this purpose, the political parties contest elections, organize political rallies to win the support of the voters and propagate their policies and programs through radio, television, newspaper, etc. All of these are constitutional methods.

But along with the use of constitutional means, the political parties do not hesitate to use unconstitutional means, to get political power.

party system in india
party system in india

They go on strikes, sit on dharnas, hold Punjab bandh or Bharat bandh and many times resort to violence and damage the public property like burning of trains, buses, etc.

Such activities of the political parties prove that these are more concerned about the promotion of their political interest and are least concerned about the protection of national interest.

h) Populist Nature of Political Parties –

Another nature of the party system in india is the populist nature of the political parties. It is generally observed that in India, political parties in order to acquire power, take resort to populist politics.

They take undue advantage of the sentiments and compulsion of the people, raise populist slogans and mislead the innocent people.

For instance –

In 1971 Congress gave the slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’ and in 1975, it tried to get the support of the people by formulating a 20 point program.

Also, in 1991 elections, the Congress party gave the slogan of ‘Stability and Growth’ and the Bharatiya Janata Party gave the slogan of ‘Ram, Roti, and Insaaf.’

i) Lack of Discipline among the members of Political Parties – 

Another nature of the party system in india is the lack of discipline. It is noticed that the members of different political parties do not bother about the party discipline, rather they remain busy in mud slinging on each other.

Whenever any leader fails to get any party ticket, he immediately deserts his parent party and joins another or forms a different political party.

j) Communal and Caste Character of Political Parties –

There is a special influence of caste and religion on the people of India and they owe special loyalty towards their caste and their religion. Because of this, the clever politicians have formed political parties on the basis of caste and religion, and during elections, they exploit the caste and religious sentiments of the people and they ask for their votes.

party system in india
party system in india

While putting up candidates for different constituencies, the cast and religious combination of the candidate is kept in mind. The states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, etc, have a special influence of caste and regional political parties in these states.

The national political parties also do the politics of ‘Mandir and Masjid’ and ask for votes in the name of religion. 

Changing Nature or Emerging Trends of the Party system in India – 

There is a close relationship between social, economic and political systems and whenever any changes take place, in either of these, it affects the other system also.

Since Independence, lots of changes have taken place in the social, economic and political system in India as a result of which many changes have taken place in the party system in india.

These are – 

a) Registration of Political Parties has been made compulsory.

b) End of the era of one party rule.

c) Communal and Caste Character of Political Parties.

d) Increasing number of Regional Parties.

e) Increasing importance of Regional Parties.

f) Electoral alliance and coalition government.

g) Populist nature of political parties.

h) Decreasing importance of Leftist parties.

i) Lack of Ideological commitment. 

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What is the meaning of political parties?

A political party is a group of persons who organize themselves on the basis of the fixed program and try to capture the power of the government through constitutional means in order to give practical shape to their program. 

What is the nature of party system in India?

The nature of the political institution or party system of every country is the product of the political culture. Following are the characteristics of the nature of party system in india – 
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