updated on May 4th, 2019
Meaning And Types
Political parties are voluntary associations or
There are three kinds of party systems in the world, viz., (i) one party system in which only one ruling party exists and no opposition is permitted, as for example, in the former communist countries like the USSR and other East European countries; (ii) two-party system in which two major parties exists, as for example, in USA and Britain; and (iii) multi-party system in which there are a number of political parties leading to the formation of coalition governments, as for example, in France, Switzerland and Italy.
PARTY SYSTEM IN INDIA
The Indian party system has the following characteristic features:
The continental size of the country, the diversified character of Indian society, the adoption of universal adult franchise, the particular type of political process, and other factors have given rise to a large number of political parties. In fact, India has the largest number of political parties in the world. At present (2013), there are 6 national parties, 51 state parties and 1415 registered – unrecognized parties in the country2. Further, India has all categories of parties—left parties, centrist parties, right parties, communal parties, non-communal parties and so on. Consequently, the hung Parliaments, hung assemblies and coalition governments have become a common phenomenon.
One-Dominant Party System
In spite of the multiparty system, the political scene in India was dominated for a long period by Congress. Hence, Rajni Kothari, an eminent political analyst, preferred to call the Indian party system as a ‘one-party dominance system’ or the ‘Congress system’3. The dominant position enjoyed by the Congress has been declining since 1967 with the rise of regional parties and other national parties like Janata (1977), Janata Dal (1989) and the BJP (1991) leading to the development of a competitive multi-party system.
Lack of Clear Ideology
Except for the BJP and the two communist parties (CPI and CPM), all other parties do not have a clearcut ideology. They (i.e., all other parties) are ideologically closer to each other. They have a close resemblance in their policies and programmes. Almost every party advocates democracy, secularism, socialism, and Gandhism. More than this, every party, including the so-called ideological parties, is guided by only one consideration—power capture. This, politics has become issue-based rather than the ideology and pragmatism has replaced the commitment to the principles.
Quite often, the parties are organized around an eminent leader who becomes more important than the party and its ideology. Parties are known by their leaders rather than by their manifesto. It is a fact that the popularity of Congress was mainly due to the leadership of Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi. Similarly, the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and TDP in Andhra Pradesh got identified with MG Ramachandran and NT Rama Rao respectively. Interestingly, several parties bear the name of their leader like Biju Janata Dal, Lok Dal (A), Congress (I) and so on. Hence, it is said that “there are political personalities rather than political parties in India”.
Based on Traditional Factors
In the western countries, the political parties are formed on the basis of socio-economic and political programme. On the other hand, a large number of parties in India are formed on the basis of religion, caste, language, culture, race and so on. For example, Shiv Sena, Muslim League, Hindu Maha Sabha, Akali Dal, Muslim Majlis, Bahujan Samaj Party, Republican Party of India, Gorkha League and so on. These parties work for the promotion of communal and sectional interests and thereby undermine the general public interest.
Emergence of Regional Parties
Another significant feature of the Indian party system is the emergence of a large number of regional parties and their growing role. They have become the ruling parties in various states like BJD in Orissa, DMK or AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Akali Dal in Punjab, AGP in Assam, National Conference in J&K, JD(U) in Bihar and so on. In the beginning, they were confined to regional politics only. But, of late, they have come to play a significant role in the national politics due to coalition governments at the Centre. In the 1984 elections, the TDP emerged as the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.
Factions and Defections
Factionalism, defections, splits, mergers, fragmentation, polarisation and so on have been an important aspect of the functioning of political parties in India. Lust for power and material considerations have made the politicians to leave their party and join another party or start a new party. The practice of defections gained greater currency after the fourth general elections (1967). This phenomenon caused political instability both at the Centre and in the states and led to the disintegration of the parties. Thus, there are two Janata Dals, two TDPs, two DMKs, two Communist Parties, two Congress, three Akali Dals, three Muslim Leagues and so on.
Lack of Effective Opposition
An effective Opposition is very essential for the successful operation of the parliamentary democracy prevalent in India. It checks the autocratic tendencies of the ruling party and provides an alternative government. However, in the last 50 years, an effective, strong, organized and viable national Opposition could never emerge except in flashes. The Opposition parties have no unity and very often adopt mutually conflicting positions with respect to the ruling party. They have failed to play a constructive role in the functioning of the body politic and in the process of nation-building.
RECOGNITION OF NATIONAL AND STATE PARTIES
The Election Commission registers political parties for the purpose of elections and grants them recognition as national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance. The other parties are simply declared as registered-unrecognized parties.
The recognition granted by the Commission to the parties determines their right to certain privileges like allocation of the party symbols, provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations and access to electoral rolls.
Every national party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use throughout the country. Similarly, every state party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use in the state or states in which it is so recognized. A registered-unrecognized party, on the other hand, can select a symbol from a list of free symbols. In other words, the Commission specifies certain symbols as ‘reserved symbols’ which are meant for the candidates set up by the recognized parties and others as ‘free symbols’ which are meant for other candidates.
Conditions for Recognition as a National Party:******
At present (2014), a party is
- The party wins 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha (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 State Party in four or more States.
Both national and state parties have to fulfil these conditions for all subsequent Lokshabha or State elections. Else, they lose their status.
Conditions for Recognition as a State Party ********
At present (2014), a party is recognized as a state party in a state if any of the following conditions
- At General Elections or Legislative Assembly elections, the party has won 3% of seats in the legislative assembly of the State ( subject to a minimum of 3 seats).
- At a Lok Sabha General Elections, the party has won 1 Lok sabha seat for every 25 Lok Sabha seat allotted for the State.
- At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party has polled minimum of 6% of votes in a State and in addition, it has won 1 Lok Sabha or 2 Legislative Assembly seats.
- At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party has polled 8% of votes in a State.
The number of recognized parties keeps on changing on the basis of their performance in the general elections. At present (2019), there are 7 national parties, 51 state parties. The national parties and state parties are also known as all-India parties and regional parties respectively.
Recognised National Parties and State Parties (First to Fifteenth General Elections)
|General Elections (Year)||Number of National Parties||Number of State Parties|
Recognised National Parties and their Symbols (2013)
|Sl.No.||Name of the Party (Abbreviation)||Symbol Reserved|
|1.||Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)||Elephant*|
|2.||Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)||Lotus|
|3.||Communist Party of India (CPI)||Ears of Corn and Sickle|
|4.||Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)||Hammer, Sickle and Star|
|5.||Indian National Congress (INC)||Hand|
|6.||Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)||Clock|
|7||Trinamool Congress||Two Flowers|
- In all States / U.T.s except in Assam, where its candidates will have to choose a symbol out of the list of free symbols specified by the Election Commission.
Recognised State Parties and their Symbols (2013)
|Sl. No.||Name of the State / Union Territory||Name of the State Party (Abbreviation)||Symbol Reserved|
|1.||Andhra Pradesh||1. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)||Car|
|2. Telugu Desam (TDP)||Bicycle|
|2. ||Arunachal Pradesh||1. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||Flowers and Grass|
|2. People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA)||Maize|
|3.||Assam||1. All India United Democratic Front (AUDF)||Lock and Key|
|2. Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)||Elephant|
|3. Bodoland People’s Front (BPF)||Nangol|
|4.||Bihar||1. Janata Dal (United) (JD(U))||Arrow|
|2. Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJSP)||Bungalow|
|3. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)||Hurricane Lamp|
|5.||Goa||Maharashtrawadi Gomantak (MAG)||Lion|
|6.||Haryana||1. Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) (HJC(BL))||Tractor|
|2. Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)||Spectacles|
|7.||Jammu & Kashmir||1. Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC)||Plough|
|2. Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP)||Bicycle|
|3. Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (JKPDP)||Ink Pot and Pen|
|8.||Jharkhand||1. All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU)||Banana|
|2. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)||Bow and Arrow|
|3. Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) (JVM(P))||Comb|
|4. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)||Hurricane Lamp|
|9.||Karnataka||Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S))||A Lady Farmer carrying Paddy on her head|
|10.||Kerala||1. Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) ||A Lady Farmer carrying Paddy on her head|
|2. Kerala Congress (M) (KEC(M))||Two Leaves|
|3. Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)||Ladder|
|11. ||Maharashtra||1. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)||Railway Engine|
|2. Shiv Sena (SHS)||Bow and Arrow|
|12.||Manipur||1. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||Flower and Grass|
|2. Manipur State Congress Party||Cultivator Cutting Crop|
|3. Naga People’s Front (NPF)||Cock|
|4. People’s Democratic Alliance||Crown|
|13.||Meghalaya||1. United Democratic Party (UDP)||Drum|
|2. Hill State People’s Democratic Party||Lion|
|14.||Mizoram||1. Mizo National Front (MNF)||Star|
|2. Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC)||Electric Bulb|
|3. Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP)||Sun (without rays)|
|15.||Nagaland||Naga People’s Front (NPF)||Cock|
|16.||Orissa||Biju Janata Dal (BJD)||Conch|
|17.||Puducherry||1. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) or (AIADMK)||Two Leaves|
|2. All India N.R. Congress||Jug|
|3. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)||Rising Sun|
|4. Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)||Mango|
|18. ||Punjab||Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)||Scales|
|19. ||Sikkim||Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)||Umbrella|
|20. ||Tamil Nadu||1. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) or (AIADMK)||Two leaves|
|2. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)||Rising Sun|
|3. Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK)||Nagara|
|21. ||Uttar Pradesh||1. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)||Hand Pump|
|2. Samajwadi Party (SP)||Bicycle|
|22. ||West Bengal||1. All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)||Lion|
|2. All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||Flowers and Grass|
|3. Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)||Spade and Stoker|
Formation of Political Parties (Chronological Order)
|Sl. No.||Name of the Party (Abbreviation)||Year of Formation|
|1.||Indian National Congress (INC)||1885|
|2.||Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)||1920|
|3.||Communist Party of India (CPI)||1925|
|4.||Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC)||1939|
|5.||All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)||1939|
|6.||Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP)||1940|
|7.||Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)||1948|
|8.||Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)||1949|
|9.||Mizo National Front (MNF)||1961|
|10.||Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MAG)||1963|
|11.||Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM)||1964|
|12.||Shiv Sena (SHS)||1966|
|13.||Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC)||1972|
|14.||Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)||1972|
|15.||All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)||1972|
|16.||Kerala Congress (M) (KEC (M))||1979|
|17.||Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)||1980|
|18.||Telugu Desam Party (TDP)||1982|
|19.||Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)||1984|
|20.||Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)||1985|
|21.||People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA)||1987|
|22.||Samajwadi Party (SP)||1992|
|23.||Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)||1993|
|24.||Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)||1996|
|25.||Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP)||1997|
|26.||Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)||1997|
|27.||Biju Janata Dal (BJD)||1997|
|28.||All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||1998|
|29.||Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)||1998|
|30.||Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party (PDP)||1999|
|31.||Janata Dal (United) (JD (U))||1999|
|32.||Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S))||1999|
|33.||Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)||1999|
|34.||Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJSP)||2000|
|35.||Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)||2001|
|36.||Naga People’s Front (NPF)||2002|
|37.||All India United Democratic Front (AUDF)||2004|
|38.||Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam (DMDK)||2005|
|39.||Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS)||2006|
How to get registered as a Political party with Election Commission of India?
.1. Is it necessary for an association to get registered by the Election Commission?
It is not necessary for every association to get registered by the Election Commission. Only an association or body of individual citizens of India calling itself a political party and intending to avail itself of the provisions of Part-IV-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, (relating to registration of political parties) is required to get itself registered with the Election Commission of India.
Q.2. What are the benefits of registration with the Election Commission of India?
Ans. The candidates set up by a political party registered with the Election Commission of India will get preference in the matter of allotment of free symbols vis-à-vis purely independent candidates. Further, registered political parties, in course of time, can get recognition as `State Party’ or National Party’ subject to the fulfillment of the conditions prescribed by the Commission in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, as amended from time to time. If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State of States in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India. Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost and broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.
Q.3. What is the procedure for registration?
Ans. An application for registration is to be submitted to the Secretary, Election Commission of India, Nirvachan Sadan, Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001 in the proforma prescribed by the Commission. The Performa is available on request by post or across the counter from the office of the Commission. The proforma and necessary guidelines are also available on the Commission’s website under the main heading Judicial References, sub-heading Political Party and sub-sub-heading Registration of Political Parties(Click Here). The same can be downloaded from there also. The application should be neatly typed on the party’s letter head, if any, and it should be sent by registered post or presented personally to the Secretary to the Election Commission within thirty days following the date of formation of the party.
2. The application must be accompanied by the following documents/information:-
(i) A demand draft for Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand Only) on account of processing fee drawn in favour of Under Secretary, Election Commission of India, New Delhi. The processing fee is non-refundable.
(ii) A neatly typed/printed copy of the memorandum/rules and regulations/Constitution of the Party containing a specific provision as required under sub-section (5) of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in the exact terms, which reads “—————(name of the party) shall bear true faith and allegiance to the constitution of India as by law established, and to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”. The above mandatory provision must be included in the text of party constitution/rules and regulations/memorandum itself as one of the Articles/clauses.
(iii) The copy of the party Constitution should be duly authenticated on each page by the General Secretary/President/Chairman of the Party and the seal of the signatory should be affixed thereon.
(iv) There should be a specific provision in the Constitution/rules and regulations/memorandum of the party regarding organizational elections at different levels and the periodicity of such elections and terms of office of the office-bearers of the party.
(v) The procedure to be adopted in the case of merger/dissolution should be specifically provided in the Constitution/rules and regulations/memorandum.
(vi) Certified extracts from the latest electoral rolls in respect of at least 100 members of the party (including all office-bearers/members of main decision-making organs like Executive Committee/Executive Council) to show that they are registered electors.
(vii) An affidavit duty signed by the President/General Secretary of the party and sworn before a First Class Magistrate/Oath Commissioner)/ Notary Public to the effect that no member of the party is a member of any other political party registered with the Commission.
(viii) Individual affidavits from at least 100 members of the party to the effect that the said member is a registered elector and that he is not a member of any other political party registered with the Commission duly sworn before a First Class Magistrate/Oath Commissioner)/Notary Public. These affidavits shall be in addition to the furnishing of certified extracts of electoral rolls in respect of the 100 members of the applicant party mentioned at (vi) above.
(ix)Particulars of Bank accounts and Permanent Account Number, if any, in the name of the party.
(x)Duly completed CHECK LIST alongwith requisite documents prescribed therein.
3. The application along with all the required documents mentioned above should reach the Secretary to the Commission within 30 days following the date of formation of the party.
4. Any application made after the said period will be time-barred.
Q.4. What are the criteria for recognition of a party?
Ans. A political party shall be treated as a recognised political party in a State, if and only if either the conditions specified in Clause (A) are, or the condition specified in Clause (B) is, fulfilled by that party and not otherwise, that is to say-
(A) that such party –
has been engaged in political activity for a continuous period of five years; and
has, at the last general election in that State to the House of the People, or, as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, returned-
either ( i ) at least one member to the House of the People for every twenty-five members of that House or any fraction of that number from that State;
or (ii) at least one member to the Legislative Assembly of that State for every thirty members of that Assembly or any fraction of that number;
(B) that the total number of valid votes polled by all the contesting candidates set up by such party at the last general election in the State to the House of the People, or as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, is not less than six per cent of the total number of valid votes polled by all the contesting candidates at such general election in the State.
2. The conditions in Clause (A) or Clause (B) above shall not be deemed to have been fulfilled by a political party, if a member of the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State becomes a member of that political party after his election to that House or, as the case may be, that Assembly.
3. ‘State’ includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
4. If a political party is treated as a recognised political party in four or more States, it shall be known as a `National Party’ throughout the whole of India, but only so long as that political party continues to fulfill thereafter the conditions for recognition in four or more States on the results of any subsequent general election either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of any State.
5. If a political party is treated as a recognised political party in less than four States, it should be known as a `State Party’ in the State or States in which it is so recognised, but only so long as that political party continues to fulfill thereafter the conditions for recognition on the results of any subsequent general election to the House of the People or, as the case may be, to the Legislative Assembly of the State, in the said State or States.
- For Further reading
- Elections in India
- Model Code of Conduct for Election in India
- Election Commission of India
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