You have already learnt that political parties serve as a vehicle for federally shared political power and as mediators of social differences in democratic politics. You will learn about the nature and operation of political parties in our nation in this chapter. In CBSE Notes Class 10 Political Science Chapter 6 – Political Parties, we have covered all of the chapter’s significant subjects. You will learn about the national and regional political parties in contemporary India via these notes. Additionally, this chapter will assist you in determining what is wrong with political parties and what may be done to rectify the situation.
CBSE Class 10 Social Science notes will assist students in studying the topic thoroughly and clearly.
These CBSE Class 10 Social Science notes were written by subject experts who made the study material very basic, both in terms of language and format.
Why do We Need Political Parties?
In a democracy, political parties are one of the most visible institutions. For the ordinary citizens, democracy is equal to political parties. It is critical to understand the nature and operation of political parties.
MEANING OF POLITICAL PARTIES
A political party is a collection of people who band together to run for office and maintain power in the government.
All political parties have policies and programmes aimed at promoting the common good in society. They attempt to persuade people as to why their policies are superior to those of others. They hope to put their policies into effect by winning popular support in elections.
Political parties are a reflection of a society’s fundamental political divisions. All political parties favour a particular segment of society, implying partisanship.
A party’s identity is determined by which side it represents, which policies it supports, and which interests it defends.
FUNCTIONS OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Political parties performs the following functions
- Political parties nominate candidates to run for elections. These candidates may be chosen by the party’s top leaders or by party members. Members and supporters of a political party choose its candidate in some countries, such as the United States. Top party leaders in India select candidates to run in elections.
- Voters can choose from a variety of policies and programmes presented by political parties.
- Political parties play a significant role in enacting legislation in the United States. A bill cannot become law unless it has the support of a majority of the parties in the legislature. The Legislature is where laws are debated and passed.
- Governments are formed and run by political parties. Political parties are the source of major policy decisions made by the political executive. Parties appoint leaders, train them, and promote them to ministerial positions.
- Parties that lose elections serve as an opposition to the ruling party. They criticise the government for its bad policies and mobilise opposition to it.
- Public opinion is shaped by political parties. They bring up and bring attention to issues. Parties have a large number of members and activists who are dispersed throughout the country. Many of the pressure groups are political parties’ extensions. Parties will sometimes start movements to solve a problem that the people are facing.
- People can gain access to government machinery and welfare programmes through political parties. The public can approach their local party leader more easily than a government official. People will reject the local party leader if he or she does not listen to the needs and demands of the people.
NECESSITY OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Political parties are needed because they perform variety of functions. Modern democracies cannot exist without political parties.
Without existence of parties, following situations may occur
- Every election candidate will be an independent. No one will be able to make any major policy changes promises to the people.
- Even if a government is formed, its utility will remain a mystery. Elected officials will be held accountable to their constituents for their actions in the community. However, no one will be in charge of how the country is run.
- In many Indian states, non-party based Panchayat elections are held. In this case, the parties do not compete in a formal election. It is common knowledge that the village is divided into several groups, each of which presents a ‘panel’ of candidates. This necessitates the existence of a political party.
- The emergence of representative democracies is inextricably linked to the rise of political parties. As societies grew larger and more complex, they required a body to collect and present various points of view on various issues to the government.
- The government, in turn, requires a mechanism to support or restrain it, to make policies, to justify or oppose them. Every representative government’s needs are met by political parties.
POLITICAL PARTY SYSTEMS
The different countries around the world opt for different party systems. Broadly, political party system can be divided into following three categories
- One-Party System : Only one political party is allowed to control and run the government in a one-party system. China, for example, has a one-party system. This system is not a good choice for democracy because it does not give competing parties a fair chance to gain power.
- Two-Party System : In this party system, two parties have a good chance of forming government and winning a majority. Power is usually shared between two major political parties. Two-party systems can be seen in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
- Multi-Party System : In this system, more than two political parties compete for power through elections. India has a multi-party system, with the Election Commission of India registering over 750 parties. It ensures that a wide range of interests and viewpoints are represented in politics.
COALITION OF PARTIES
In India, the government is formed by a coalition of various parties. The term “alliance” or “front” refers to when several parties in a multi-party system join forces for the purpose of contesting and winning.
For instance, in India, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) are two political parties.
IDEAL PARTY SYSTEM
The nature of society, its social and regional divisions, and the history of politics all influence how a party system evolves over time. Our country’s social and geographical diversity is difficult to absorb by two or even three parties. As a result, India has a multiparty political system.
POPULAR PARTICIPATION IN POLITICAL PARTIES
Political parties are facing a crisis of unpopularity and indifference among the citizens.
The evidence, based on a series of large sample surveys conducted over several decades, shows that
- People in South Asia do not have a lot of faith in political parties.
- Even so, there is a high level of participation in political party activities.
- India has a higher proportion of political party members than many advanced countries such as Canada, Japan, Spain, and South Korea.
- In India, the proportion of people who are close to a political party has steadily increased over the last three decades.
TYPES OF POLITICAL PARTIES
Democracies that follow a federal system all over the world tend to have two kinds of political parties
- State Parties : Parties that are present in only one of the federal units.
- National Parties : Parties that are present in several or all units of the federation.
In India, there are both National and State parties. Every party in the country has to register with the Election Commission.
A National Party is defined as a political party that receives at least 6% of the total vote in Lok Sabha or Assembly elections in four states and wins at least four seats in the Lok Sabha.
The commission treats all parties equally, but large and established parties are given special consideration. These events are assigned a distinct symbol. That election symbol can only be used by that party’s official candidates.
Due to special privileges and facilities provided by the Election Commission, these parties are referred to as recognised political parties.
Some Important National Political Parties of India
In 2018, there were seven recognised national political parties in the country. These are
- Indian National Congress (INC): The Indian National Congress (INC), also known as the Congress Party, is one of the world’s oldest political parties, having been founded in 1885. It promotes secularism and the welfare of marginalised groups and minorities.
- Communist Party of India (CPI): In 1925, the Communist Party of India (CPI) was founded. Marxism-Leninism, secularism, and democracy are all values it upholds. It stands in opposition to secessionist and communist forces. Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu are among the states where it has a significant presence.
- Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M): In 1925, the Communist Party of India (CPI) was founded. Marxism-Leninism, secularism, and democracy are all values it upholds. It stands in opposition to secessionist and communist forces. Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu are among the states where it has a significant presence.
- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was founded in 1980 after the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was revived. The party’s goal is to inspire people to build a strong and modern India by drawing on India’s ancient culture and values. It became the leader of the National Democratic Alliance, which included several state and regional parties, in 1998.
- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) :The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was founded in 1984 under Kanshi Ram’s leadership. Its goal is to represent the Bahujan Samaj, which includes Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, and religious minorities, and to secure power for them. It has a significant presence in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Delhi, and Punjab, with its headquarters in Uttar Pradesh.
- All India Trinamool Congress (AITC): The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) was founded on January 1, 1998, under Mamta Banerjee’s leadership. In 2016, this party was designated as a National Party. Flowers and grass are the party’s symbols. West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Tripura are among the states where it operates.
- Nationalist Congress Party (NCP): Following a split in the Congress Party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was formed in 1999. Democracy, Gandhian secularism, equity, social justice, and federalism are all supported. Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Manipur, and Assam all have significant populations.
A State party is defined as one that receives at least 6% of the total vote in a state’s Legislative Assembly election and wins at least two seats. Regional parties are the term used to describe these groups. Some regional parties, which claim to represent the entire country, have only achieved success in a few states.
Nationally organised political parties such as the Samajwadi Party, Samata Party, and Rashtriya Janata Dal have units in several states. Biju Janata Dal, Sikkim Democratic Front, and Mizo National Front are among the parties that are aware of their state’s identity.
State Parties With National Level Organisation
Several regional parties are pan-Indian parties that have achieved success in just a few states. Samata Party, Samajwadi Party, and Rashtriya Janata Dal all have a nationwide political organisation with their own units in various states. Certain parties, like the Mizo National Front, Biju Janata Dal, and the Sikkim Democratic Front are aware of their state culture and identity.
Status of State Parties
These parties have grown in number and power during the previous three decades. This increased the political diversity of India’s Parliament. No national party is capable of securing a majority in the Lok Sabha solely.
As a consequence, national political parties are driven to create coalitions with state political parties.
Since 1996, practically every state party has had the possibility to join one or more coalition governments at the national level. This has aided in the consolidation of our country’s democracy and federalism.
NCERT Question Answer Class 10 Political Science (Civics) Chapter 6 – Popular Struggles and Movements
Question 1. State the various functions political parties perform in a democracy.
Answer: Basically, the functions of political parties are to fill political offices and exercise political power. This is done by performing the following functions as mentioned below :
(1) Contest elections: In democracies, the political parties put up their own candidates to run for office. There are different ways to choose the candidates. In the US, for example, candidates are chosen by the members and supporters of a party. In India, the top party leaders decide who will run for office.
(2) Put forward different policies and programmes: Each political party has its own set of ideas and plans. These are presented to voters in the form of a manifesto at election time. A party looks at different points of view and decides on a basic position on policy issues. Then, a government makes decisions based on that basic position.
(3) Role in making laws for a country: In a coalition government, laws are made based on what the ruling party or alliance wants. Members of a political party vote in the legislature based on what the party decides, no matter what their own opinions are.
(4) Formation of governments: The government is made up of and run by the party or group of parties that has the most votes in the legislature. In a parliamentary democracy, this function is so important that the government is known by the name of the Party, like the Congress or BJP government. Usually, the political executive makes big policy decisions, and the government is run based on those decisions.
(5) Role of opposition: Those parties that lose the election become the government’s opponents. They say what they think and criticise the government for failing or making bad decisions. They do this by bringing up different types of motions or questions in the legislature.
(6) Role in shaping public opinion: Political parties bring up and focus on different public issues. There are ties between political parties and pressure groups, which affect how the government makes decisions. Political parties often use pressure groups as an extension of their work. Political parties also start movements to support demands that are in the public interest.
(7) Access to government machinery and welfare schemes: People in the community talk to local party leaders about their needs and problems. From them, they learn about how the government works. A local party leader is easier for a regular citizen to talk to than a government official. They feel close to people even if they don’t trust them completely. Parties have to pay attention to what people want and need. If not, voters can vote against these parties at the next election.
Question 2. What are the various challenges faced by political parties?
Answer: Political parties play an important role in a democracy. So it is natural for the people to blame parties for its failures to perform their functions well. Popular dissatisfaction and criticism has focussed on various problems in the working of political parties. These are as mentioned below :
(1) Lack of internal democracy: Parties don’t have enough democracy within themselves. For instance, organisational elections don’t happen very often. Most decisions are made by the President or other top party leaders. The party’s ordinary members have no say in how decisions are made. People who disagree with the leadership sometimes find it hard to stay in the party. Loyalty to the leader becomes more important than loyalty to the party’s ideas and policies. Because of this, power tends to be held by one or a small group of leaders at the top.
(2) Dynastic succession: When giving out election tickets, family members or people who are close to top leaders are given priority. Sometimes deserving members are denied tickets. The way political parties work is not open and clear. Top jobs, like President or General Secretary, are always run by members of the same family. This doesn’t treat the other people in the party fairly. It also hurts democracy because people who don’t have enough experience end up running the party. This is a trend that can be seen all over the world, even in some of the older democracies.
(3) Use of money and muscle power: Political parties will do anything to win elections. Money is used by parties to buy votes and pay for loud campaigns. Nominations are made for rich candidates so that they can win elections. Not only is this used in elections, but so is muscle power. It is used to force people to vote, take over voting booths, and threaten the other campaign. Some political parties back and choose criminals who can help them win elections. Democrats all over the world are worried that rich people and criminals are getting more involved in democratic politics.
(4) Hardly any meaningful choice: So that people can choose between them, the parties must be very different. But in most parts of the world, the ideological differences between parties have shrunk in recent years. For instance, in Britain, the gap between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party is narrowed. In our country, too, there are less differences between the major parties when it comes to economic policies. People don’t have any other choices. People can’t always choose very different leaders, either, because the same group of leaders keeps moving from one party to another.
Question 3. Suggest some reforms to strengthen parties so that they perform their functions well.
Answer: Following reforms are suggested to strengthen political parties so that they perform their functions well :
(1) Regulate the internal affairs of political parties: The internal workings of political parties should be regulated by law. Follow the basic rule that elections should go from the lowest level to the highest level. There should be open elections for higher positions. The parties should keep a list of who belongs to them. They should follow the party’s rules and have a separate authority that can act as a judge if there is a disagreement within the party.
(2) Representation to women candidates: The political parties should be required to give one-third of their tickets to women candidates. They should have enough say in the groups that make decisions.
(3) State funding of elections: So that money doesn’t have too much power, there should be state-funded elections, which means that the government should give money to parties to help them pay for their election costs. This help could come in the form of gas, paper, or a phone. It could be given as cash based on how many votes the party got in the last election. The political parties are not likely to accept any of the above ideas, though. Most parties find ways to get around the rules. Also, political parties won’t work together to pass a law they don’t like. In this case, there are two other ways to reform political parties, which are described below.
Pressure by people:
- People can also put pressure on political parties by signing petitions, getting the word out, and making trouble. This kind of pressure could make political parties take reforms more seriously.
- People should join political parties in large numbers so that they can help the parties do their jobs better. From the inside, it’s easier to change a party than from the outside.
Question 4. What is a political party?
Answer: A political party is a group of people who work together to run for office and rule the country. In order to help society as a whole, they agree on some policies and programmes. So, a political party has things like an organisation, clear views on political issues, a well-thought-out plan of action, and the will and desire to put those policies into action.
Question 5. What are the characteristics of a political party?
The characteristics of a political party are as given below :
- A political party is a group that is put together. Each party has its own way of doing things.
- It has clear ideas about a lot of things.
- It stands for a certain set of ideas. For example, a party might be on the left or the right.
- It shows how society works. For example, a party might stand for business owners, the poor, the upper class, or the lower class. So, a party can stand for a certain part of a society.
- The leaders, the active members, and the followers are the three parts of a party.
Question 6. A group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government is called a_____________.
Answer: political party
Question 7. Match List I (organisations and struggles) with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists :
|1. Congress Party
|A. National Democratic Alliance
|2. Bharatiya Janata Party
|B. State party
|3. Communist Party of India (Marxist)
|C. United Progressive Alliance
|4. Telugu Desam Party
|D. Left Front
Answer: (c) C, A, D, B.
Question 8. Who among the following is the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party ?
- Kanshi Ram Sahu Maharaj
- B.R.Ambedkar D. JyotibaPhule
Answer: (A) Kanshi Ram. ‘
Question 9. What is the guiding philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party?
- Bahujan Samaj B. Revolutionary democracy
- Integral humanism D. Modernity
Answer: (C) Integral humanism.
Question 10. Consider the following statements on parties :
- Political parties do not enjoy much trust among the people.
- Parties are often rocked by scandals involving top party leaders.
- Parties are not necessary to run governments.
Which of the statements given above are correct ?
(a) A, B and C
(b) A and B
(c) B and C
(d) A and C
Answer: (b) A and B.
Read the following passage and answer the questions given below : Muhammad Yunus is a famous economist of Bangladesh. He received several international honours for his efforts to promote economic and social development for the benefit of the poor. He and the Grameen Bank he started jointly, received the Nobel Peace Prize for the 2006. In February 2007, he decided to launch a political party and contest in the parliamentary elections. His objective was to foster proper leadership, good governance and build a new Bangladesh. He felt that only a political party different from the traditional ones would bring about new political culture. His party would be democratic from the grassroots level.
The launching of the new party, called Nagrik Shakti (Citizens’ Power), has caused a stir among the Bangladeshis. While many welcomed his decision, some did not like it. “Now I think Bangladesh will have a chance to choose between good and bad and eventually have a good government”, said Shahedul Islam, a government official. “That government, we hope, would not only keep itself away from corruption but also make fighting corruption and black money a top priority.”
But leaders of traditional political parties who dominated the country’s politics for decades were apprehensive. “There was no debate (over him) winning the Nobel, but politics is different – very challenging and often controversial”, said a senior leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Some others were highly critical. They asked why he was rushing into politics. “Is he being planted in politics by mentors from outside the country”, asked one political observer.
(a) Do you think Yunus made a right decision to float a new political party ?
(b) Do you agree with the statements and fears expressed by various people ?
(c) How do you want this new party organised to make it different from other parties ?
(d) If you were the one to begin this political party how would you defend it ?
(a) Yunus made the right choice when he started a new political party. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to start or join a political party of his choice. There’s nothing bad about it. Second, Yunus is well-known in Bangladesh and all over the world because he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He has his own ideas about politics. By starting the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, he set an example. People may help him get a good government in place and build the new Bangladesh he wants.
- I don’t agree with what people say and what they’re afraid of because it’s not true. Politics is definitely different from other fields, but Yunus has done well by starting the Grameen Bank to help people. In the end, democracy is also for the people’s good. People who might lose power in the future are making claims and expressing their fears.
- The new political party should be set up in a democratic way. There should be regular elections for positions in an organisation. The way the party works should be open to everyone. All parts of society, including women and minorities, should be fairly represented.
- I would defend the party’s formation by saying that every citizen in a democracy has the right to join or start a political party of his choice.