Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Political Parties in India

I have never really understood the politics of our country. I think its about time that I should have a basic knowledge and understanding about the political system, right?
In the Indian politics, the President of India is head of state and the Prime Minister of India is the head of government. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, the highest national court being the Supreme Court of India. Elections are held at different levels. The two major election levels are at national level, after which the national government is established and at state level after which the state government is established. Elections are also held for city, town and village councils.
The Parliament of India is the supreme legislative body, which basically means that it has the power to pass, amend, revoke or annul laws. It has the ultimate power over all political parties of India. It comprises of the President of India, and the two houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The President of India has the power to summon, discontinue or postpone either house of parliament or to dissolve Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha, the House of the people, is the lower house of Parliament. The leader of the house in Lok Sabha is Sushilkumar Shinde. Its membership has been limited to 552 members, by the constitution. It is formed for a term of 5 years, after which it is automatically dissolved. The present membership of Lok Sabha is 545. If there is any disagreement between the two Houses, the Lok Sabha will prevail in the joint sitting with the Rajya Sabha because it has more members than the other House of the Parliament. The Speaker of Lok Sabha is Meira kumar. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha conducts the business in the house and also on the agenda to be taken up for discussion during the meeting.
Rajya Sabha, the Council of States, is the upper house of Parliament. Its membership is limited to 250 members, 12 of whom are chosen by the President of India for their expertise in specific fields of art, literature, science, and social services. These members are known as nominated members. The remainder of the body is elected by the state and territorial legislatures. Unlike the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution but one-third of its members retire after every second year. The present membership of Rajya Sabha is 245. The Vice President of India also serves as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The current vice President is Mohammad Hamid Ansari. His function as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha is to preside over the meetings, also it includes admitting members to the floor, deciding points of order, maintaining order and discipline in the House, deciding issues and announcing results.
Besides the Chairman (Vice-President of India) and the Deputy Chairman, there is also a function called Leader of the House. This is a cabinet minister - the prime minister if he is a member of the House, or another nominated minister. The Leader has a seat next to the Chairman, in the front row. The leader of the house in Lok Sabha is Sushilkumar Shinde, while in Rajya Sabha, the leader of the house is Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Besides the Leader of the House, who is leading the majority, there is also a Leader of the Opposition - leading the minority parties. This is commonly the leader of the largest minority party, and is recognized as such by the Chairman. For Lok Sabha it is Sushma Swaraj and for Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.
 The Members of either house are commonly referred to as Members of Parliament or MP. The Parliament is composed of 790 MPs.
The period during which the House meets to conduct its business is called a session. The Constitution empowers the President to summon each House at such intervals that there should not be more than 6 month's gap between the two sessions. Hence the Parliament must meet at least twice a year. In India, the parliament conducts three sessions each year:- Budget session: 20–35 days in the months of February to May, Monsoon session: 20–35 days in the months of July to August and Winter session: 20–34 days in the months of November to December.
Now that I have covered a lot of basics, yes that just the basics, lets move onto the various political parties of our nation.
So, India has basically two types of political parties, National and State level.  National parties are political parties which, participate in different elections all over India. State parties or regional parties are political parties which, participate in different elections but only within one state.
There are a total of 54 regional or state level parties. Although there are only 6 National level Political Parties.
Now as explained earlier, regional level parties can participate in only their state elections. Well, I don’t really think that I can delve more into these parties or else we’ll be here for a very long time.
So, instead of the regional parties, I’ll talk about the thinking or their ideologies. Now, many political parties base their political action and election program on an ideology. A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. Some parties follow a certain ideology very closely, while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them. For the purpose of explaining where or at what point, a political party stands, we should firstly understand a few concepts.
Party Platform: A manifesto, written public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.
Political spectrum: It is a term used to refer to the differences in ideology between the major political parties.
Left Wing Politics: The Left, left-wing, and leftists are people or views which generally support social change to create a more egalitarian society, a classless society or a society that treats everyone with equality.
Right Wing Politics: The Right, right-wing, and rightist have been defined as acceptance or support of social hierarchy. Inequality is viewed by the Right as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, whether it arises through traditional social differences or from competition in market economies.
Centre Right Politics: The moderate right, describes adherence to views whose views leaning to the right but close to the centre on the left-right political spectrum.
Centre Left Politics: People with views leaning to the left but close to the centre on the left-right political spectrum. The centre-left promotes a degree of social equality that it believes is achievable through promoting equal opportunity.
Far Right Politics: It involves support of strong or complete social hierarchy in society, and supports supremacy of certain individuals or groups deemed to be innately superior who are to be more valued than those deemed to be innately inferior.
So a brief overview about the national parties, because lets face it, I don’t think anybody can actually remember all the state level parties, not willingly at least.
1.      Indian National Congress (INS): Commonly known as Congress, is one of the two major political parties of India. Its party leader or chairperson is Sonia Gandhi. Our current Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and current President, Pranab Mukherjee as well as former President, Pratibha Patil belongs to this party. It is currently in power in eight states (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Rajasthan) where the party enjoys a majority of its own. It has 206 seats in Lok Sabha and 71 seats in Rajya Sabha. This party’s platform is considered Centre Left in the Indian Political Spectrum.
  1. Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP): It is the second largest political party, after Congress. Its Chairperson is Nitin Gadkari. Former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is a member of BJP. It is currently in power in six states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Goa) where the party enjoys a majority of its own. It has 114 seats in Lok Sabha and 49 seats in Rajya Sabha. The party platform of BJP is Centre Right.
  2. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP): Majority People's Party is one of the only five prominent national political parties of India. It was formed to chiefly represent Bahujans, referring to people from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes as well as minorities. Its Chairperson is Mayawati, former Chief Minister of Utter Pradesh. It has its main base in UP. It has 21 seats in Lok Sabha and 15 seats in Rajya Sabha. It has a centrist party platform.
  3. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP): NCP was formed by Sharad Pawar, P. A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar after they were expelled from the INC, for disputing the right of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi to lead the party. It is primarily based in the state of Mahrashtra. Its Chairman is Sharad Pawar, currently the Minister of Agriculture, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Minister Of Defense. It has 9 seats in Lok Sabha and 7 seats in Rajya Sabha. It has a centre to centre left party platform.
  4. Communist Party of India (CPI): It was initially formed with a view to fight for national independence and a future of socialism. Its Secretary General is Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, who has previously served as the Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour. It has 4 seats in Lok Sabha and 3 seats in Rajya Sabha. It is a left wing political party.
  5. Communist Party of India (Marxist) {CPI (M) OR CPM}: It emerged out of a division within the Communist Party of India (CPI). It has a strong presence in the states of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. As of 2011, CPI (M) is leading the state government in Tripura. Its Secretary General is Prakash Karat. It has 16 seats in Lok Sabha and 11 seats in Rajya Sabha. It is also a left wing political party.
Now that’s a lot of information to be remembered in a short amount of time, but I am really glad I did this, because now I atleast know how confusing all this can become.
Well, it is good to see that we have come such a long way since 1919, when the Parliament was founded. The Government of India Act, 1919, was passed by the British Parliament to define the structure of government and administration in Great Britain's chief colony, India. The chief purpose of the 1919 act was to allow the people of India greater participation in their own government.
Although, the period of British Raj was a very harsh period for India, but with all its damaging and negative impact upon India, it still had a few good features. I mean, I am really glad that we got our independence, but its still heartening to see all of that suffering and torment did us a little good too. Or else who knows how long it would have taken us to create a proper political environment.


  1. Very informative post based on thorough research.Great work indeed.