Political Science Chapter 6: Political Parties

Facts that Matter

  1. A political party is a group of people who aim to attain power in the government through the elections. In other words, it is a group of people holding some policies and programmes, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.
  2. Political parties reflect fundamental political divisions in a society. Parties are a part of the society and involve partnership.
  3. A political party has three components: the leader, the active members and the followers.
  4. Political parties perform a series of functions, such as, contesting elections, putting forward different policies and programmes, making laws for the country, forming and running government.
  5. Modern democracies cannot exist without political parties. In case there are no political parties every candidate in the elections will be independent and no leader will be able to make any promise to the people about any major policy change.
  6. The emergence of political parties is linked to the emergence of representative democracies. Large societies need representative democracy. As societies became large and complex they also needed some agencies to gather different views on various issues and to present these to the government. They needed some ways to bring various representatives together so that a responsible government could be formed. They needed a mechanism to support or restrain the government, make policies, justify or oppose them. Political parties fulfill these needs that every representative government has. This is how political parties came into existence. Hence, we can say that parties are a necessary condition for a democracy.
  7. Now the question arises how many major or effective parties are good for a democratic country. In some countries only one party is allowed to control and run the government. These are called one party systems. For example, in China, only the Communist Party is allowed to rule. In some countries power usually changes between two major parties. Such a party system is called two party system. The United States of America and the United Kingdom are examples of two-party system.
  8. If several parties compete for power, more than two parties have a reasonable chance of winning and coming to power either on their own or through an alliance with others. This is called multi-party system. For example–India.
  9. When several parties join hands for the purpose of contesting elections or winning power, it is called an alliance or a front. NDA—National Democratic Alliance, UPA-United Progressive Alliance and the Left Front were three major alliances in 2004 parliamentary elections in India.
  10. Each country develops a party system that is conditioned by its special circumstances. For example, if India has evolved a multi-party system, it is because the social and geographical diversity in such a vast country is not easily absorbed by two or three parties.
  11. National Political Parties are country-wide parties. These parties have their units in various states. These units follow the same policies, programmes and strategy that is decided at the national level. For example, Indian National Congress (INC).
  12. State Political Parties like Samajwadi Party, Samta Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal have national 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.
  13. Over the last three decades the strength of state parties has expanded. No national party is able to secure on its own a majority in the Lok Sabha. As a result, national parties are compelled to form alliances with state parties.
  14. Political parties in our country are facing several challenges, such as lack of internal democracy within parties etc.
  15. In order to face these challenges, political parties need to be reformed. Some of the recent efforts and suggestions in our country to reform political parties and its leaders are:

— The Constitution was amended to prevent elected MLAs and MPs from changing parties. This was done because many elected representatives were indulging in defections 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. The new law has brought defection down and has made dissent even more difficult.

— The Supreme Court passed an order to reduce the influence of money and criminals. Now it is mandatory for every candidate who conducts elections to file an affidavit giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him. The new system has made a lot of information available to the public.

— The Election Commission passed an order making it necessary for the political parties to hold their elections and file their income tax returns.

Words that Matter

  1. Political party: A group of people with similar policies and programmes, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.
  2. Partisan: A person who is strongly committed to any party, group or factor.
  3. Ruling Party: A political party that runs government.
  4. One-party system: In some countries only one party is allowed to control and run the government. These are called one-party systems.
  5. Two-party system: In some countries power usually changes between two major parties.
  6. Multi-party system: If several parties compete for power, more than two parties have a reasonable chance of winning and coming to power either on their own or through an alliance with others.
  7. Alliance/front: When several parties join hands for the purpose of contesting elections or winning power.
  8. Regional party: A party that secures at least 6% of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a state and wins at least 2 seats is recognised as a regional party/state party.
  9. National party: Those parties which are country-wide parties are called national parties.
  10. Defection: Moving of a person from one party to another party for some personal benefit.
  11. Affidavit: An affidavit is a signed document submitted to an officer, where a person makes a sworn statement regarding his/her personal information.

I. MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS

Choose the correct option:

1. The Indian National Congress was founded in the year

(a) 1800                                                                                                           (b) 1890

(c) 1899                                                                                                           (d) 1885

2. The opposition party is ......... .

(a) the party that loses the election and does not form the government

(b) the party that wins the election and forms the government.

(c) the party that opposes the ruling party

(d) the party that does not contest election

3. What does defection mean?

(a) Leaving all the parties

(b) Moving of a person from one party to another party for some personal benefit

(c) Moving of a person from opposition party to ruling party

(d) Moving of a person from ruling party to opposition party

4. How many parties are registered with the Election Commission in India?

(a) More than 750 parties                                                                    (b) Less than 750 parties

(c) More than 800 parties                                                                    (d) Less than 750 parties

5. Which is the most visible institution of democracy?

(a) Elections                                                                                        (b) Political parties

(c) Adult Franchise                                                                             (d) Seats reservation

6. Which political party supports the concept of Hindutva?

(a) Communist Party of India (Marxist)                                             (b) Congress Party

(c) Bharatiya Janata Party                                                                   (d) Telugu Desam party

7. One of the following countries has single-party system ......... .

(a) India                                                                                              (b) The United Kingdom

(c) The United States of America                                                       (d) China

8. A political party is composed of ......... .

(a) leaders                                                                                            (b) active members

(c) followers                                                                                        (d) all of the above

9. The institution that banned wall writing by parties during elections is ......... .

(a) The Election Commission                                                  (b) The Judiciary

(c) The Parliament                                                                               (d) The Press

10. Which one of the following regional parties is associated with West Bengal?

(a) Lok Jan Shakti Party                                                                     (b) Janata Dal

(c) Forward Bloc                                                                                 (d) Democratic Front

11. The symbol of Bahujan Samaj Party is ......... .

(a) Hand                                                                                              (b) Elephant

(c) Bicycle                                                                                           (d) Hand

12. One of the following political parties is a state party ......... .

(a) Bharatiya Janata Party                                                                   (b) Nationalist Congress Party

(c) Samata Party                                                                                  (d) Bahujan Samaj Party

13. One of the following political parties is a national party ......... .

(a) Bharatiya Janata Party                                                                   (b) Samata Party

(c) Samajwadi Party                                                                            (d) Rashtriya Janata Dal

Ans. 1—(d) 2—(c) 3—(b) 4—(a) 5—(a) 6—(c) 7—(d) 8—(d) 9—(a) 10—(c) 11—(b) 12—(c )13—(a)

II. VERY SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS

  1. If all the decision of a political party are made by a single family and all other members are neglected, than what challenge is being faced by that party?                          (CBSE 2015)
  2. What is political party?
  3. What is partisanship?
  4. Name the three components of a political party.
  5. What is expected form a government?
  6. Mention any two functions of a political party.
  7. Why do parties sometimes launch movements?
  8. Under which do people usually reject some particular parties in the next elections?
  9. How are political parties viewed in a democracy?
  10. How many parties are registered with the Election Commission of India?
  11. Which party is allowed to rule in China?
  12. Although people in China are legally free to form political parties, it does not happen. Why?
  13. Why one party system is not considered a good option?
  14. Why do we need at least two parties in a democratic system?
  15. Name the two countries where we see two party systems.
  16. How is the government formed in a multi-party system?
  17. What is called an alliance or a front?
  18. What is a major drawback of the multi-party system?
  19. India has evolved a multi-party system. What is the reason behind it?
  20. Democracies that follows a federal system all over the world tend to have two kinds of political parties. Which are they?
  21. What are called ‘national parties’?
  22. What are called ‘recognised political parties’?
  23. Which party is recognised as a state party?
  24. Which party is recognised as a national party?
  25. When was Bahujan Samaj Party formed and under whose leadership?
  26. Who are personalities from whom BSP draws inspiration?
  27. What is the principal concern of Bahujan Samaj Party?
  28. What is the chief objective of Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M)?
  29. Name the states where one can notice significant presence of Communist Party of India (CPI).
  30. Name any two challenges to political parties?
  31. What will happen if any MLA or MP changes parties?
  32. What has the supreme court done to reduce the influence of money and criminals in politics?
  33. How can people put pressure on political parties?
  34. When is it difficult to reform politics?

III. SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS

  1. What is a multi-party system? Why has India adopted a multi-party system? Explain. (CBSE 2015)
  2. “Lack of internal democracy within parties is the major challenge to political parties all over the world.” Analyse the statement. (CBSE 2015)
  3. “Political parties play a major role in democracy.” Give three viewpoints to justify this statement.
  4. Write a short note on Indian National Congress (INC).
  5. Differentiate between a national party and a state party.
  6. What is a multi-party system? Write a note on multi-party system in the context of India. (HOTS).
  7. Write a short note on one-party system.
  8. Give an assessment of two-party system with examples.
  9. Give the symbols of all the six national political parties in India.
  10. What do you mean by the term ‘defection’? What measures were adopted to prevent this practice? (HOTS)
  11. Why can’t modern democracies exist without political parties? Explain any three reason.(AI CBSE 2012)
  12. Explain the three steps taken by the different authorities to reform political parties and their leaders in India.                                                                                                 (AI CBSE 2012)
  13. How do state or regional political parties contribute in strengthening federalism and democracy in India? Explain with examples.                                                                       (CBSE 2012)
  14. “Lack of internal democracy is a challenge to the efficient functioning of India political parties”. Support the statement with examples.                                                        (AI CBSE 2013(C))
  15. How do political parties shape the public opinion? Explain with three examples. (CBSE 2012(F))

(i) What is one party or single party system? Give one example.

(ii) What is be party or two party system? Give example.

(iii) What is a multi-party system?

17.  What is the reason behind the evolution of a multi-party system in India? Give one advantage and one disadvantage of this system.  (HOTS)

18.  Why do we have a multi-party system in India? What are the advantages of a multi-party system?   (CBSE 2011)

19.  How do political parties help in the formation of public opinion?   (CBSE 2012)

20.  Name the national political party which draws inspiration from the ideas and teachings of Sahu Maharaj. Mention the features of that party.   (CBSE 2013)

(i) What is defection?

(ii) Mention the source of inspiration for:

• BJP                           • Congress                                           • BSP

22.  (iii) Mention one step taken by the supreme court of India in order to reduce the influence of money and criminals in politics.    [AI CBSE 2009]

III. LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS

1.      What is the need of the political parties? How would its absence affect any country? [V. Imp.]

Or

What is the necessity of political parties in a democratic set-up? Explain any four points. [CBSE 2010(F)]

2.      Write briefly about the six major national parties of India.

3.      What are the major functions of political parties? Explain.    [CBSE 2008(C), AI CBSE 2010]

Or

“Political parties are necessary for a democracy”. In the light of this statement explain any four functions of the political parties in India.   (CBSE 2011)

Or

Describe any five functions of political parties.                                             [AI CBSE 2013(C)]

4.      Explain some reforms to strengthen the working of political parties.            (CBSE 2011)

Or

How can political parties be reformed? Explain.    (CBSE 2012)

5.      Why is there a lack of internal democracy within political parties in India? Explain with examples.(CBSE 2008)

Or

6.      What are the major challenges which the political parties face in the present era? Explain.(CBSE 2011)

IV. VALUE BASED QUESTIONS

1.      What values are associated with a political party?

2.      Suggest some ways to reform political parties.

3.      What is the major drawback of the multi-party system? Why does it suit to India?

TEST YOUR SKILLS

1.      What is public opinion? How do political parties form public opinion?

2.      Give merits of a political party.

3.      Why are political parties necessary?

4.      What is meant by dynastic succession in politics?

5.      ‘Opposition is important for democracy’. Comment.

6.      What is meant by an alliance or front in forming government?