When it comes to keeping everything in discipline and under control, political parties come into the picture. Political parties play an important role whenever there are national issues in a democratic country. A country can have one or more than one political parties. Political parties work together with different organizations, and functionalities and make themselves powerful to govern the country.
A political party where all the members think in the same direction and take needful decisions in unity is called a party system. In this party system, they have a leader who plots his ideologies and other members give their opinion and accordingly together take the decisions. Whereas on the other hand, in a multi-party system there are several other political parties working and putting forth their ideologies and having a varied plan of action.
To give a precise definition of a political party then we can say that people who believe and share the same thought process share the same platform and form one political party. Whatever decisions the formed political party takes are always consistent. An ideal political party is where all the work is organized and the members are disciplined.
Every political party strives to seize political power and educate the public about the failures and flaws of the party in power. A good political party should have national policies and programs that aim to address the needs of all segments of society without any reservations.
The most crucial aspect of a political party is that it should only use constitutional means and techniques to achieve its goals.
The political parties in India are further grouped into several minor groups based on their work. These are broadly classified as national, regional, local, and ad hoc. At the national level, several parties are secular and lack ideological commitment, such as the Indian National Congress, which includes the Congress, the Janata Dal, the Janata Party, and others. Then there are ideologically dedicated rightist and leftist parties at the national level.
Bhartiya Janata Party and Bhartiya Lok Dal come under the former group, whereas both Communist parties fit into the latter. Then there are communal and non-communal regional parties Regional Communal Parties.
Major Aspects of India's Political Party System
- We all are aware that the Indian government works in a multi-party system. As previously said, there are hundreds of political parties and groupings, and new parties are emerging. The membership growth is due to certain political figures who become unsatisfied with the current parties forming a new party, but not with an entirely new program.
- Political parties are formed by communities that have a large number of members. Political parties are founded to capitalize on regional and communal sentiments. An adult franchise is one of the major reasons behind India's multiparty system. Some political parties start around election time to gain political power. If they fail to do anything, these will go as soon as the elections are finished.
- Another trait is that the country still has a one-party dominating system to some extent. Although the country has multiple political parties, Congress continues to dominate both at the national level and in many states.
- Of course, certain states have non-Congress governments, but the Congress party has a firm grip on the country. Except for brief intervals in 1977-79 and 1989, the party has been in power at the center. However, the party has witnessed multiple splits as a result of internal fighting, causing issues for leadership.
- Another characteristic is that members of political parties do not adhere to stringent party discipline. There are usually instances of disciplinary action and the expulsion of renegade members from the party. Members of one party who are disobedient are enthusiastically embraced by the other.
Here is a list of Top 10 Political Parties in India.
1. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into existence in the year 1980. Syama Prasad Mookerjee started to lay the foundation of the Bharatiya Janata Party from the year 1951. Following the 1975 emergency, the Bharatiya Janata Sangh combined with other parties to establish the Janata Party. The Janata Party was disbanded in 1980, resulting in the formation of the current dominant party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. Following the BJP's first bad result, a new alliance, the National Democratic Alliance, was formed (NDA). Some well-known leaders of BJP are Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Amit Shah. And as we all are aware, BJP is in force of running the affairs of the country.
2. Indian National Congress (INC)
Even before India's independence, the Indian National Congress party was the sole dominating party. It was formed in 1885 with the help and leadership of British civil servant Allan Octavian Hume. After the partition, the largest party in India, led by Nehru, administered the country.
Congress played a significant role in the Indian freedom struggle under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. In the year 1966, Indira Gandhi became India’s prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru. Rajiv Gandhi, her son, took over after her death. Due to Rajiv Gandhi's untimely demise, his wife Sonia Gandhi was chosen as the leader of the INC. It is now the most powerful opposition party.
3. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
The Aam Aadmi Party started gaining its ground from the year 2012. The AAP administration was elected to rule the National Capital Territory (NCT) twice.
The party was formed as a result of a disagreement between Kejriwal and Indian activist Anna Hazare over the introduction of electoral politics into the popular 2011 Indian anti-corruption campaign, which had been seeking a Jan Lokpal Bill 2011. The rise of the AAP altered the political landscape in Delhi, effectively eliminating the Indian National Congress. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, and Raghav Chadda are among the prominent leaders.
4. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)
Mamata Banerjee launched the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) in 1988. Mamata's party, widely known as the Trinamool Congress (TMC), gained confidence after beating the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 2011. TMC beat BJP in Bengal's state assembly elections in 2021.
The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) is also known as Trinamool Congress (abbreviated TMC), is an Indian political organization having its roots in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee is the incumbent Chief Minister of West Bengal. She has led the state since 2011. She is the heart and soul of the party and leads the party. It is now the third-largest party in both Parliament and State legislative assemblies, with 23 Lok Sabha members, 13 Rajya Sabha members, and 235 MLAs in India's State legislative legislatures, trailing only the BJP and the INC. TMC was recognized as a national political party by the Election Commission in 2016.
Mamata created TMC after splitting from INC. TMC has its power in North-Eastern states. These states are Tripura, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh. Mamata Banerjee, Mahua Moitra, and Abhishek Banerjee are prominent leaders of the main political party.
5. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)
On May 25, 1999, the Nationalist Congress Party was created. Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar created the NCP after seceding from the INC. Pawar was elected as the party's leader, while the other two members were appointed as General Secretaries. NCP has a significant presence in Maharashtra.
The state of Maharashtra is the party's major base, and its leadership reflects this. Since the 1980s, Indian politics has also become dynastic, probably due to the lack of a party organization, autonomous civil society organizations that organize support for the party, and centralized election finance. This phenomenon may be observed from the national to the district level. In this aspect, the NCP is regarded as the most dynastic party in Indian politics. Sharad Pawar, the party's founder, has numerous members of his family in significant positions in the party, including daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar.
6. Communist Party of India (CPI)
The Communist Party of India (CPI) is India's oldest communist party. It comes in the list of the country's six national parties. The Communist Party of India started functioning as a political party from December 26, 1925. S.V. Ghate was appointed as CPI's first General Secretary. Many communist organizations were created by Indians with the assistance of Europeans in various regions of the world. The party established a central committee. The party was approved as the Indian component of the Communist International in 1934.
From the year 2020, CPI party has become a part of Kerala State government. Kerala's Chief Minister is Pinarayi Vijayan. Kerala has four Cabinet Ministers from the CPI. It is in power in Tamil Nadu, thanks to the SPA alliance led by M. K. Stalin.
7. National People's Party (NPP)
The National People's Party is an Indian political party at the national level, while its power is mostly focused on the state of Meghalaya. P A Sangma started to lay the foundation of NPP party after parting ways from NCP in the year 2012. On June 7, 2019, it was granted national party recognition and eventually became the first party from the Northeast to get this reputation. A book is its electoral symbol. The relevance of this is that the party thinks that only reading and education can empower the less fortunate elements of society.
8. Bahujan Samaj Party
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is a national political party formed to represent Bahujans which means community in majority. This party deals with Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes (OBC), as well as religious minorities. When Kanshi Ram launched the party in 1984, the Bahujans made up 85 percent of India's population but were separated into 6,000 castes. In Uttar Pradesh Bahujan Samaj Party is in power. It grabbed the second place in the Indian general election in the year 2019. Its electoral emblem is an elephant, which was previously used by Dr. Ambedkar's Scheduled Castes Federation.
9. Shiv Sena
Let us know the literal meaning of Shiv Sena first, it means the army or group of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Shiv Sena came into existence in the year 1966. Hindu cartoonist Bal Saheb Thackeray is the founder of this powerful party Shiv Sena. Its electoral symbol is a bow & an arrow. Uddhav Thackeray takes lead of this political party. He is Bal Thackeray’s son. Uddhav Thackeray is also the current chief minister of Maharashtra.
Although the party's major base remains in Maharashtra, it has attempted to broaden its appeal to a pan-Indian audience. From the year 1970, this party steadily shifted from a pro-Marathi philosophy to one that supported a larger Hindu nationalist agenda, aligning itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since its founding, the party has participated in Mumbai (BMC) municipal elections. Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the BJP in the year 1989 for Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections. This partnership proved to be beneficial and hence the Shiv Sena joined the BJP-led Maharashtra government in December 2014.
From the year 1998 to 2019, Shiv Sena was also a coalition partner in the National Democratic Alliance. Following the Maharashtra elections in October 2019, Shiv Sena stated that their coalition partner BJP failed to keep pledges and severed relations. In further years, this party joined INC and NCP for establishing their administration in Maharashtra.
10. Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M)
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which we often call as (M) or CPI-M or CPM, is an Indian communist political party. It is India's largest communist party in terms of membership and electoral seats as well as one of the country's national parties. On November 7, 1964, the Communist Party of India (CPI) split, resulting in the formation of the party. As of 2022, the CPI (M) is a member of the ruling coalitions in two states: Kerala's Left Democratic Front and Tamil Nadu's Secular Progressive Alliance. The CPI-M is represented in the legislative assembly of nine states.
The Communist Party of India's highest authority is the All-India Party Congress (Marxist).The Central Committee is given the priority of taking decisions during the time between two party congresses. The Central Committee will then further choose a Polit Bureau. This Bureau includes a General Secretary and carries out the work for the central committee.