History of India

India since independence

information on India - Politics of India

Political parties in India

The Indian political parties are categorized into two main types. National level parties and state level parties. National parties are political parties which, participate in different elections all over India. For example, Indian National Congress, Bhartiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and some other parties. State parties or regional parties are political parties which, participate in different elections but only within one state. For example Shiv Sena participates only in Maharashtra, Telegu Desam in Andra Pradesh, Akali Dal in Punjab, Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) in Tamil Nadu and there are other such state parties. There are some small communist parties who participate only within one state. Some states have more than one state party. For example in Tamil Nadu another important state party is All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK). Because of these long party names many party names are abbreviated to their initials.

Some the political parties have their origin from before India's independence, for example, Indian National Congress, Forward Bloc, Akali Dal, National Conference and some other parties. Some of these parties were either social or political organization before India's independence and they became political parties after India's independence. But many of the present parties were established after India's independence. Members, who split from larger parties, established some of these parties. For example in the 1960s, Lok Dal was established by people who split from the Indian National Congress. Communist Party of India (Marxist) was established after the split in Communist Party of India and there are other such examples.

In Indian politics, there are political parties in which one person pulls all the strings. This feature existed even before India's independence, when Mahatma Gandhi was the father figure of the Indian National Congress until his death in 1948 even though he resigned from the Congress in 1933. Indira Gandhi for some period was in complete control of her party. Her party was also named, Congress (Indira). Shiv Sena is dominated by Bal Thakarey. Even when the Shiv Sena won the state elections in Maharashtra, Bal Thakarey handled the establishment of the state government but did not appoint himself as the Chief Minister but appointed someone else for this post.

Some of these parties, like the Shiv Sena in which one person pulls all the strings, have their stronghold in the public not because of their leader but because of party ideology. While other parties are completely dependable on the respect the leader of the party has in the public. One such party is Samata Party and its leader is George Fernandes. Another such party was Lok Shakti and its leader was Ramakrishna Hegde.

Many of the large national parties have a pre-election agreement with smaller parties on joint candidates in some constituencies. This candidate belongs to one of the parties and the other party supports this candidate. This is done to prevent a possibility of parties, with common national agenda or common state agenda, nominate their own different candidates causing the splitting of the votes of their wing and so losing the constituency to the rival wing.

In Indian politics there are also many independent candidates. These candidates participate in election constituencies independently without the support of any party. In very few cases the larger parties also support independent candidates.

Another feature unique to Indian politics is the high number of film actors who join the Indian politics. The Indian cinema produces films in different languages. The largest and the most popular film industry is the Hindi language film industry. Many national parties recruit Hindi movie actors in their parties. While many state parties with state chauvinism attract local film industry actors in their parties. These actors do not only appear along side with the party politicians to attract the mob towards the politicians gatherings, but they even participate as candidates in elections. Some of the state parties in south India were established by former movie actors.


India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independenceto the Global Information Age

Aharon Daniel


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