A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. They agree on some policies and programmes for the society with a view to promote the collective good. Since there can be different views on what is good for all, parties try to persuade people why their policies are better than others. They seek to implement these policies by winning popular support through elections. Political Parties are based on Partisanship (A strong committed person to the political party) A political party has three components:
a. Leader b. Active Members c. Followers.
Functions of Political Parties:
a. Political Parties contest Elections
b. Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them.
c. Parties play a decisive role in making laws for a country.
d. Parties form and run governments.
e. Those parties that lose in the elections play the role of opposition to the parties in power, by voicing different views and criticizing government for its failures or wrong policies. Opposition parties also mobilise opposition to the government.
f. Parties shape public opinion. They raise and highlight issues
g. Parties provide people access to government machinery and welfare schemes implemented by governments.
  More750 political parties are registered with the election commission of India. However, not all of them are serious contender to form the government. Some countries have a system in which there is only a single party to form the government. This system is called One-Party System. Example: In China, the communist party forms the government always. people are free to form political parties, it does not happen because the electoral system does not permit free competition for power. This type of system cannot be considered as democracy. In order for a system to democracy, a country needs to have at least two political parties to provide a free and fair chance  for any of the two parties to come into power. In some countries, power usually changes between two main parties. Several other parties may exist, contest elections and win a few seats in the national legislatures. But only the two main parties have a serious chance of winning majority of seats to form government. Such a party system is called two-party system. The United States of America and the United Kingdom are examples of two-party system. If more than two parties contest elections, there is a reasonable chance to getting elected for each party, hence, a system in which more than two parties exist is called a multiparty system. Example , India. When several parties in a multi-party system join hands for the purpose of contesting elections and

winning power, it is called an alliance or a front. India has three major alliances i.e. National Democratic Alliance (NDA), United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Left Front.
All democracies follow a certain system in which the Political Parties can be divided in two ways: the one in the federal unit and the one formed in the several units of the federation.
The Political parties which are able to contest elections at both Central and State level are called National Parties. The Political parties have to register themselves with the Election Commission. All parties are treated equally by the election commission, but some large parties are given special facilities. These parties are given a unique symbol – only the official candidates of that party can use that election symbol. parties that are recognized by the election commission are called Political Parties. Election commission has laid out a criteria to become a national party and a state party: A party that secures at least six per cent of the total votes in Lok Sabha elections or Assembly elections in four States and wins at least four seats in the Lok Sabha is recognised as a national party. A party that secures at least six per cent of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a State and wins at least two seats is recognised as a State party. Majorly there were 6 national parties in India:
A. Indian National Congress.
B. Bhartiya Janata Party
C. Bahujan Samaj Party
D. Communist Party of India.
E. Communist Party of India-Marxist.
F. National Congress Party
State Parties are commonly referred to as Regional Parties. Parties like the Samajwadi Party , Samata Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal have national level political organisation with units in several states . Some of these parties like Biju Janata Dal, Sikkim Democratic Front and Mizo National Front are conscious about their state identity.
As a result, the national parties are compelled to form alliances with State parties. Since 1996, nearly every one of the State parties has got an opportunity to be a part of one or the other national level coalition government. This has contributed to the strengthening of federalism and democracy in our country.
Challenges to Political Parties:
a. Lack of Internal Democracy within parties.
I. All over the world, the power is concentrated at the top leaders.
II. Political parties do not keep membership registers.
III. Political parties do not conduct internal elections regularly.
IV. Political Parties do not organizational meetings regularly.
V. Ordinary Members do not know the insides of the Political Functioning.
VI. Since one or few leaders exercise paramount power in the party, those who disagree with the leadership find it difficult to continue in the party.
b. Dynastic Succession:
1. Since most political parties do not practice open and transparent procedures for their functioning, there are very few ways for an ordinary worker to rise to the top in a party.
2. In many parties, the top positions are always controlled by members of one family
c. Role of Money and Muscle Power:
1. Since parties are focused only on winning elections, they tend to use short-cuts to win elections. They tend to nominate those candidates who have or can raise lots of money.
2. Rich people and companies who give funds to the parties tend to have influence on the policies and decisions of the party.
3. In some cases, parties support criminals who can win elections. Democrats all over the world are worried about the increasing role of rich people and big companies in democratic politics.
d. Lack of Meaningful choice:
1. In order to offer meaningful choice, parties must be significantly different. In recent years there has been a decline in the ideological differences among parties in most parts of the world.
Efforts made by the constitution to reform the Political Parties:
a. The Constitution was amended to prevent elected MLAs and MPs from changing parties. This was done because many elected representatives were indulging in DEFECTION in order to become ministers or for cash rewards. Now the law says that if any MLA or MP changes parties, he or she will lose the seat in the legislature. This new law has helped bring defection down. At the same time this has made any dissent even more difficult. MPs and MLAs have to accept whatever the party leaders decide.
b. The Supreme Court passed an order to reduce the influence of money and criminals. Now, it is mandatory for every candidate who contests elections to file an AFFIDAVIT giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him.
c. The Election Commission passed an order making it necessary for political parties to hold their organisational elections and file their income tax returns.
Suggestions to reform the political parties:
a. 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, to follow its own constitution, to have an independent authority, to act as a judge in case of party disputes, to hold open elections to the highest posts.
b. It should be made mandatory for political parties to give a minimum number of tickets, about one-third, to women candidates. Similarly, there should be a quota for women in the decision making bodies of the party
c. There should be state funding of elections. The government should give parties money to support their election expenses.

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