Political Parties in India: Definition, Types, Characteristics and More

DuThere are various political parties running for office in our country. The presence of a political party is actually beneficial to the country. It allows people to make more advanced and productive decisions. Furthermore, it motivates other political parties to outperform their competitors in order to win elections and dominate the country. So that is the fundamental background of political parties. 

As per the latest publication from the Election Commission of India, the total number of registered parties was 2858, with 8 national parties, 54 state parties, and 2796 unrecognised parties.

Political Parties play a significant role in the UPSC CSE Polity section. Political parties in India assume different dynamic features. Let’s learn what is a political party? its type and characteristics in detail.

Definition and Types of Political Parties

Political parties are voluntary associations or organised groupings of persons who have similar political beliefs and seek power through constitutional means in order to advance national objectives.

There are four categories of political parties in modern democratic governments.

  • Reactionary parties cling to outdated socio-economic and political structures.
  • Conservative parties that support the status quo
  • Liberal parties with the goal of changing and reforming existing institutions.
  • Radical parties seek to establish a new order by destabilising existing institutions.

Political parties are also divided into ideologies. Political scientists classify radical parties as being on the left, liberal parties as being in the centre, and reactionary and conservative parties as being on the right.

In India, the CPI and CPM are examples of leftist parties, the Congress of centrist parties, and the BJP of rightist parties.

In the world, there are three types of party systems:

  • A one-party system in which just one party controls and no opposition parties are allowed. The Soviet Union exemplified a one-party system.
  • The existence of two major parties in a two-party system. In the United States, for example, there are Republicans and Democrats.
  • A multi-party system with multiple political parties results in the formation of coalition administrations. Multi-party systems can be found in India, France, and Switzerland.

Characteristics of Party System in India

The following are the characteristics of India’s party system:

Multi-Party System 

In such a system, three or more parties have the ability to control the government either alone or as part of a coalition.

If no single party obtains a clear majority of parliamentary seats, several parties join forces to create a coalition government. Countries such as India have a multi-party system. Some argue that a multi-party system frequently leads to political instability in a country.

One-Dominant Party Systems

Despite the multiparty system, Congress dominated the Indian political scene for a long time. As a result, Rajni Kothari, an eminent political analyst, preferred to refer to the Indian party system as the “Congress System” or “one-party dominance system.” Since 1967, Congress has lost its dominant position due to the growth of regional parties and other national parties such as the Janata Dal and BJP.

Lack of Clear Ideology

Except for the BJP, the CPI, and the CPM, no other parties have a distinct philosophy. They (i.e., all other aeries) are ideologically more similar. Their policies and programmes are strikingly similar. Almost every political party supports democracy, secularism, socialism, and Gandhism. Furthermore, every party, including so-called ideological parties, is governed by the same goal: power grab. As a result, politics has become issue-based rather than ideological, and pragmatism has supplanted adherence to ideas.

The emergence of Regional Parties

Another notable element of the Indian party system is the creation and rising prominence of a large number of regional parties. They have become the ruling party in a number of states, including Orissa’s BJD, Tamil Nadu’s DMK or AIADMK, and Punjab’s Akali Dal. They were first limited to regional politics alone. However, due to coalition governments at the Centre, they have recently started to play a prominent role in national politics.

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