Party System in India: Features, Types of Political Parties in India UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : October 29th, 2022

The Party System in India implies a multi-party system in which various political parties fight democratically for power. They are organized groups and voluntary associations of individuals with a shared political ideology that tries to gain power and rule the country through constitutional means to promote national interests. The different political parties in India under this system are recognized at the national and state levels by the Election Commission of India if they meet the relevant criteria in the general elections of the State Legislative Assembly or Lok Sabha.

As per the latest statistics, the total number of registered political parties in India is 2858. Of these, there are 54 state parties, 8 national parties, and 2796 unrecognized parties. Below you will learn everything about the types of political parties in India, the party system in India, and its features from the UPSC exam point of view.

Table of Content

Political Parties in India

Political Parties coordinate the elections and have become a significant part of the politics in the country. Some countries have only one political party, but India has a multi-party system with various parties.

Party System in India Notes PDF

Political parties in India possess different dynamic features. However, all these political parties are often structured commonly. The political parties in India are composed of a party leader and a few executives. The leader represents the party and is primarily responsible for overseeing the party's strategies and policies. In contrast, all the party executive works according to the party leader.

Types of Political Parties in India

Political parties are organized groups or voluntary associations of individuals sharing the same political views. These individuals try to gain power as per Constitutional means with the desire to influence and promote national interests.

The four different types of political parties in modern democratic states are as below-

  • Radical parties - The Radical parties establish the new order by displacing the existing institutions.
  • Liberal parties - They aim to reform and change the existing institutions.
  • Conservative parties - These parties believe in the ideology of status-quo.
  • Reactional parties - These parties cling to political and socio-economic institutions.

According to the different ideologies, the political parties in India are classified as the following-

  • Conservative and reactionary parties on the right. e.g., BJP.
  • Liberal parties in the centre, e.g., Congress.
  • Radical parties on the left, e.g., CPI and CPM.

Party System in India

The party system in India is divided into these three types-

  • One-party system: In this system, only one party has the power to rule. There is no party in the opposition. For example, the Soviet Union.
  • Two-party system: In this system, two major parties exist. One of them rules the country while the other exists in the opposition. For example, Democrats and Republicans in the US.
  • Multi-party system: In this system, various parties form the government, either separately or by a coalition. For example, Switzerland, France, and India.

Features of Party System in India

Here are the salient features of the party system in India:

  • Multi-party System: India is a vast country with many people. There are a lot of political parties in India that are further divided into categories like right parties, centrist and left parties. The coalition governments hung assemblies, and hung parliaments have been static phenomena in Indian politics.
  • Lack of Clear Ideology: In India, only three parties work with a clear ideology: BJP, CPM, and CPI. In contrast, the rest lack a clear-cut ideology and possess a similar ideology regarding policies and programs. These parties work on the principles of socialism, secularism, democracy, and Gandhism.
  • One-dominant Party Systems: India is a democratic country. Yet, only one party ruled the country for quite a long time after independence. Because of this, an eminent political analyst, Rajni Kothari, called the Party system in India the Congress System or the one-party dominance system.
  • Personality Cult: In India, the political parties represented the ideology of their leaders. Thus, the leader or his ideology is of more importance rather than what they put up in their manifesto. For example, Congress became more popular because of Nehru and Gandhi’s significant leadership.
  • Based on Traditional Factors: Most political parties in India were formed by the people based on political and socio-economic programmes. In contrast, the rest of the parties are created based on culture, language, caste, or religion. For example, Hindu Maha Sabha, Muslim League, Shiv Sena, etc.
  • The Emergence of Regional Parties- There is a growing role of regional parties in India that emerged over the party system. E.g., Akali Dal in Punjab, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, BJD in Orissa, etc.
  • Lack of Effective Opposition- A democracy would not work well without effective opposition. An effective opposition would keep a check on the tendencies of the ruling party that would instead work as an alternative government. Even after years of independence, India lacks in terms of effective opposition.

National Political Parties in India

In India, a political party is recognized as a national party if it fulfills the following criteria-

  • A party must have secured a minimum of 6% of the valid vote in a Lok Sabha or an Assembly general elections in four or more states. Out of these 6, it must have won a minimum of 4 seats in an election of the Lok Sabha from a state or states.
  • If a party has won 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha and candidates for the party are elected from three or more states.
  • If a party is recognized as a state party in more than three states.

List of National Political Parties in India

There are 8 national parties in India positioned as the centre, centre-left, left-wing, and right-wing. Here is the list of national political parties in India, along with their flags and political position:

National Political Party

Political position

Symbol/ Flag

National People's Party

Centre

National People's Party

Nationalist Congress Party

Centre-left

Nationalist Congress Party

Indian National Congress

Centre

Indian National Congress

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Left-wing

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Communist Party of India

Left-wing

Communist Party of India

Bharatiya Janata Party

Right-wing

Bharatiya Janata Party

Bahujan Samaj Party

Centre-left

Bahujan Samaj Party

All India Trinamool Congress

Centre-left

All India Trinamool Congress

State Political Parties in India

The following 5 conditions must be fulfilled by recognized political parties in India to be recognized as a state political party:

  • In an election to the state legislative Assembly, the said party must gain at least six percent of the valid votes. Also, the result must be that the particular political party must win at least 2 seats in the assembly.
  • At least 6% of the valid votes must be secured by the party in the Lok Sabha election. It must win 1 seat in the Lok Sabha elections.
  • A minimum of three seats or at least 3% of the total seats must be won by the Legislative Assembly (the condition depends upon whichever is higher).
  • For every 25 seats in the Lok Sabha, the party must win a minimum of 1 seat. The fraction depends upon the number of seats allotted to that state.
  • The party should secure 8% or more of the total votes polled in the state.

List of State Political Parties in India

The list of State political parties in India, along with their symbol, is as follows-

State Political Parties

Symbol/ Flag

Zoram Nationalist Party

-

United People's Party Liberal

United People's Party Liberal

United Democratic Party

-

Sikkim Krantikari Morcha

Sikkim Krantikari Morcha

Sikkim Democratic Front

Sikkim Democratic Front

Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena

Shiromani Akali Dal

Shiromani Akali Dal

Samajwadi Party

Samajwadi Party

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party

Rashtriya Lok Dal

Rashtriya Lok Dal

People's Party of Arunachal

-

People's Democratic Front

-

People's Democratic Alliance

-

Pattali Makkal Katchi

Pattali Makkal Katchi

Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party

Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party

Mizoram People's Conference

-

Mizo National Front

-

Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party

-

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena

Lok Janshakti Party

Lok Janshakti Party

Kerala Congress (M)

Kerala Congress (M)

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha

-

Jannayak Janta Party

-

Janta Congress Chhattisgarh

-

Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party

-

Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party

-

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference

Indigenous People's Front of Tripura

Indigenous People's Front of Tripura

Indian Union Muslim League

Indian Union Muslim League

Indian National Lok Dal

Indian National Lok Dal

Hill State People's Democratic Party

Hill State People's Democratic Party

Goa Forward Party

Goa Forward Party

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam

Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation

Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation

Bodoland People's Front

Bodoland People's Front

Biju Janata Dal

Biju Janata Dal

Asom Gana Parishad

Asom Gana Parishad

All Jharkhand Students Union

All Jharkhand Students Union

All India United Democratic Front

All India United Democratic Front

All India N.R. Congress

All India N.R. Congress

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen

All India Forward Bloc

-

Bharat Rashtra Samithi

Bharat Rashtra Samithi

Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party

-

Telugu Desam Party

Telugu Desam Party

Revolutionary Socialist Party

Revolutionary Socialist Party

Rashtriya Janata Dal

Rashtriya Janata Dal

Naga People's Front

Naga People's Front

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Janata Dal (United)

Janata Dal (United

Janata Dal (Secular)

-

Aam Aadmi Party

Aam Aadmi Party

Unrecognized Political Parties in India

The list of unrecognised political parties in India is as under:

Revolutionary Goans Party

Lok Insaaf Party

NISHAD Party

YSR Telangana Party

Vikassheel Insaan Party

Goa Suraksha Manch

The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance

Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi

Apna Dal (Sonelal)

Indian Secular Front

Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohiya)

Hindustani Awam Morcha

Rashtriya Jan Jan Party

Makkal Needhi Maiam

Jan Shakti Party of India

Raijor Dol

Loktantrik Janata Dal

Jan Adhikar Party Loktantrik

Plurals Party

Jansatta Dal Loktantrik

All India Hindustan Congress Party

Jammu and Kashmir Workers Party

Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazagam

Param Digvijay Dal

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party

All India Mahila Empowerment Party

Jana Sena Party

Punjab Ekta Party

Swaraj India

Odisha Janmorcha

Kongunadu Makkal Desia Katchi

Indian Gandhiyan Party

Bahujan Mukti Party

Welfare Party of India

Socialist Party (India)

Hindu Sena

Samajwadi Janata Dal Democratic

Quami Ekta Dal

Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi

Naam Tamilar Katchi

Social Democratic Party of India

Manithaneya Makkal Katchi

Rashtriya Ulama Council

Peace Party of India

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha

Lok Satta Party

Rashtriya Samaj Paksha

Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party

Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaingar Peravai

People's Democratic Front

Ittihad-e-Millat Council

Kongunadu Makkal Katchi

Tamil Manila Congress

Puthiya Tamilagam

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar)

Samata Party

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Kerala Congress (Jacob)

Gondwana Ganatantra Party

Kerala Congress (B)

Bharatiya Minorities Suraksha Mahasangh

Amra Bangali

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi

Lokdal

Uttarakhand Kranti Dal

Manipur Peoples Party

Kerala Congress

United Goans Party

-

 

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FAQs on Party System in India

  • India has a multi-party system. People choose their representatives, and the party that can gain majority forms the government while the other sits as the opposition party.

  • There are four types of Political parties in India, and these are Radical parties, Liberal parties, 

    Conservative parties, and Reactional parties. As of 23 Sept 2021, the total number of registered political parties was 2858.

  • The party system in India possesses the following characteristics- a multi-party system, a one-dominant party system, a lack of clear ideology, a personality cult based on traditional factors, the emergence of regional parties, factions, and defections, and a lack of effective opposition.

  • The multi-party system is a political system that includes multiple parties that can gain control of the government offices, either in coalition or separately.

  • The party system in India is a multi-party system. There are a total of 2858 political parties in India at the national and state levels. Out of these, there are 54 state parties, 8 national parties, and 2796 unrecognized parties.

  • A party is to be recognized as a national party if it has secured a minimum of 6% of the valid vote in a Lok Sabha or an Assembly general election in four or more states and won a minimum of 4 seats in an election of the Lok Sabha from a state or states. There are 8 national political parties in India.

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