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Politics of India

The politics of India takes place within the framework of the country's constitution. India is a federal parliamentary democratic
republic in which the President of India is the head of state and the Prime Minister of India is the head of government. India follows
the dual polity system, i.e. a double government that consists of the central authority at the centre and states at the periphery. The
constitution defines the organisational powers and limitations of both central and state governments, and it is well-recognised, rigid
and considered supreme; i.e. thelaws of the nation must conform to it.

There is a provision for a bicameral legislature consisting of an upper house, the Rajya Sabha (Council of States), which represents
the states of the Indian federation, and a lower house, the Lok Sabha (House of the People), which represents the people of India as a
whole. The Indian constitution provides for an independent judiciary, which is headed by the Supreme Court. The court's mandate is
to protect the constitution, to settle disputes between the central government and the states, to settle inter-state disputes, to nullify any
central or state laws that go against the constitution and to protect the fundamental rights of citizens, issuing writs for their
enforcement in cases of violation.[1]

Governments are formed through elections held every five years (unless otherwise specified), by parties that secure a majority of
members in their respective lower houses (Lok Sabha in the central government and Vidhan Sabha in states). India had its first
general election in 1951, which was won by the Indian National Congress, a political party that went on to dominate subsequent
elections until 1977, when a non-Congress government was formed for the first time in independent India. The 1990s saw the end of
single-party domination and the rise of coalition governments. The elections for the 16th Lok Sabha, held from April 2014 to May
2014, once again brought back single-party rule in the country, with the Bharatiya Janata Party being able to claim a majority in the
Lok Sabha.[2]

In recent decades, Indian politics has become a dynastic affair.[3] Possible reasons for this could be the absence of party
organisations, independent civil society associations that mobilise support for the parties and centralised financing of elections.[4]
The Economist Intelligence Unitrated India as a "flawed democracy" in 2016.[5]

Contents
Political parties and alliances
Types of political parties
Alliances
Local governance
Role of political parties
Political issues
Social issues
Economic issues
Law and order
High Political Offices in India
President of India
Vice President of India
The Prime Minister and the Union Council of Ministers
State Governments
Dynasties in Indian Politics
See also
References
Further reading
External links

Political parties and alliances


Compared with other democratic countries, India has a large number of political parties. It has been estimated that over 200 parties
[6]
were formed after India became independent in 1947.

Some features of the political parties in India are that the parties are generally woven around their leaders, the leaders are actively
playing a dominant role, and that the role of leadership can be transferred, thus tending to take a dynastic route. The two main parties
in India are the Bharatiya Janata Party, also known as the BJP and the Indian National Congress, commonly called the INC or simply
Congress. These two parties dominate national politics. On the left-right political spectrum, the Indian National Congress is a
welfare-heavy, centre party, whereas the BJP (Claiming to be fiscally conservative,but also welfare-heavy and government
interventionist) is a Right-wing party.

Types of political parties


There are two types of political parties in India - National Party and
Regional/State party. Every political party must bear a symbol and must
be registered with the Election Commission of India. Symbols are used
in Indian political system as an identity of political parties and so that
.[7]
illiterate people can also vote by recognizing symbols of party

Parliament of India.
In the current amendment to the Symbols Order, the Commission has
infused the following five principles, which, in its view, should govern
the polity in the country, situate as it is in its present state:[8]

1. Legislative presence is a must for recognition as a National or State party .


2. For a National party, it must be the legislativepresence in the Lok Sabha and for a State party , the legislative
presence must be reflected in the State Assembly .
3. In any election, a party can set up a candidate only from amongst its own members.
4. A party, that loses its recognition, shall not lose its symbol immediately, but shall be given the facility to use that
symbol for some time to try and retrieve its status. (However , the grant of such facility to the party to use its symbol
will not mean the extension of other facilities to it, as are available to recognized parties, like, free time on
Doordarshan/AIR, free supply of copies of electoral rolls, etc.)
5. Recognition should be given to a party only on the basis of its own performance in elections and not because it is a
splinter group of some other recognized party .
Criteria[8]

A political party shall be eligible to be recognized as aNational party if:

1. it secures at least six percent(6%) of the valid votes polled in anyfour or more states, at a general election to the
House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly; and
2. in addition, it wins at leastfour seats in the House of the People from any State or States.

OR

it wins at least two percent (2%) seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and
these members are elected from at leastthree different States.

Likewise, a political party shall be entitled to be recognized as aState party, if:

1. it secures at least six percent (6%) of the valid votes polled in the State at a general election, either to the House of
the People or to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned; and
2. in addition, it wins at leasttwo seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned.
OR

it wins at least three percent (3%) of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State, or at least three seats in the
Assembly, whichever is more.

At present there are seven national parties and many more state parties.

Alliances
India has a history of alliances and breakdown of alliances. However, there are three alliances on a national level in India, competing
with each other for the position of Government. The member parties work in harmony for gratifying national interests, although a
party can jump ships. The three alliances -

National Democratic Alliance(NDA) - Centre-Right coalition led byBJP was formed in 1998 after theelections. NDA
formed a government, although the government didn't last long asAIADMK withdrew support from it resulting in
1999 general elections, in which NDA won and resumed power. The coalition government went on to complete the
full five-years term, becoming the first non-Congress government to do so. In the 2014 General Elections, NDA once
again returned to power for the second time, with a historic mandate of 336 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats. BJP itself
won 282 seats, thereby electingNarendra Modi as the head of the government.
United Progressive Alliance(UPA) - Centre-Left coalition led byIndian National Congress; this alliance was created
after the 2004 general elections, with the alliance forming the Government. The alliance even after losing some of its
members, was reelected in2009 General Electionswith Manmohan Singh as head of the government.
Third front - A coalition of parties which do not belong to any of the above camps due to certain issues. One of the
party in the alliance, theCPI(M), prior to 2009 general elections, was a member party of the UPA. The alliance has
no official leading party, and smaller parties often enter and leave the alliance according to political convenience.
Many of these parties ally at national level but contest against each other at state level. The inherent problem with
such a third front is that they are only bound together by the fact that they are not aligned to either of the two 'main'
alliances, and not through similar ideological stances. This often means that this alliance is merely an alliance in
name and does not really provide a united front which can serve as an alternative to the two historically prominent
alliances. Therefore, despite the presence of this so called Third front and seemingly alternative options,Indian
politics by and large remains a de facto two party system at the national level.

Local governance
Panchayati Raj Institutions or Local self-government bodies play a crucial role in Indian politics, as it focuses on grassroot-level
administration in India.

On April 24, 1993, the Constitutional (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force to provide constitutional status to the Panchayati
Raj institutions. This Act was extended to Panchayats in the tribal areas of eight States, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat,
Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan from 24 December 1996.

The Act aims to provide 3-tier system of Panchayati Raj for all States having population of over 2 million, to hold Panchayat
elections regularly every 5 years, to provide reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Women, to appoint State
Finance Commission to make recommendations as regards the financial powers of the Panchayats and to constitute District Planning
Committee to prepare draft development plan for the district.

Role of political parties


As with any other democracy, political parties represent different sections among the Indian society and regions, and their core values
play a major role in the politics of India. Both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the government are run by the
representatives of the political parties who have been elected through the elections. Through the electoral process, the people of India
choose which representative and which political party should run the government. Through the elections any party may gain simple
majority in the lower house. Coalitions are formed by the political parties, in case no single party gains a simple majority in the lower
house. Unless a party or a coalition have a majority in the lower house, a government cannot be formed by that party or the coalition.
India has a multi-party system, where there are a number of national
as well as regional parties. A regional party may gain a majority and
rule a particular state. If a party is represented in more than 4 states,
it would be labelled a national party. Out of the 66 years of India's
independence, India has been ruled by the Indian National Congress
(INC) for 53 of those years, as of March 2014.

The party enjoyed a parliamentary majority save for two brief


periods during the 1970s and late 1980s. This rule was interrupted
between 1977 and 1980, when the Janata Party coalition won the
election owing to public discontent with the controversial state of
emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The
Janata Dal won elections in 1989, but its government managed to
hold on to power for only two years.

Between 1996 and 1998, there was a period of political flux with the
government being formed first by the nationalist Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) followed by a left-leaning United Front coalition. In
1998, the BJP formed theNational Democratic Alliancewith smaller Current ruling parties in the states and union
territories of India
regional parties, and became the first non-INC and coalition
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
government to complete a full five-year term. The 2004 Indian
elections saw the INC winning the largest number of seats to form a Coalition with BJP

government leading the United Progressive Alliance, and supported Indian National Congress
by left-parties and those opposed to the BJP
. Coalition with INC
Other parties
On 22 May 2004, Manmohan Singh[9] was appointed the Prime
Minister of India following the victory of the INC & the left front in
the 2004 Lok Sabha election. The UPA ruled India without the
support of the left front. Previously, Atal Bihari Vajpayee[10] had taken office in October 1999 after a general election in which a
BJP-led coalition of 13 parties called the National Democratic Alliance emerged with a majority. In May 2014, Narendra Modi of
BJP was elected as Prime Minister of India.

Formation of coalition governments reflects the transition in Indian politics away from the national parties toward smaller, more
narrowly based regional parties. Some regional parties, especially in South India, are deeply aligned to the ideologies of the region
unlike the national parties and thus the relationship between the central government and the state government in various states has not
always been free of rancor. Disparity between the ideologies of the political parties ruling the centre and the state leads to severely
skewed allocation of resources between the states.

Political issues

Social issues
The lack of homogeneity in the Indian population causes division between different sections of the people based on religion, region,
language, caste and race. This has led to the rise of political parties with agendas catering to one or a mix of these groups. Parties in
India also target people who are not in favour of other parties and use them as an asset.

Some parties openly profess their focus on a particular group; for example, the
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's and the All India Anna
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's focus on the Dravidian population and Tamil identity; Biju Janata Dal's championing of Odia culture;
the Shiv Sena's pro-Marathi agenda; Naga People's Front's demand for protection of Naga tribal identity; People's Democratic Party
and National Conference's calling for Kashmiri Muslim identity. Some other parties claim to be universal in nature, but tend to draw
support from particular sections of the population. For example, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (translated as National People's Party) has a
vote bank among the Yadav and Muslim population of Bihar and the All India Trinamool Congress does not have any significant
support outside West Bengal.

The narrow focus and votebank politics of most parties, even in the central government and central legislature, sidelines national
issues such as economic welfare and national security. Moreover, internal security is also threatened as incidences of political parties
instigating and leading violence between two opposing groups of people is a frequent occurrence.

Economic issues
Economic issues like poverty, unemployment, development are main issues that
influence politics. Garibi hatao (eradicate poverty) has been a slogan of the Indian
National Congress for a long time. The well known Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)
encourages a free market economy. The more popular slogan in this field is Sab Ka
Sath, Sab ka Vikas (Cooperation with all, progress of all). The Communist Party of
India (Marxist) vehemently supports left-wing politics like land-for-all, right to work
and strongly opposes neo-liberal policies such as globalisation, capitalism and
privatisation.
Communist Party of India (Marxist)in
2014

Law and order


Terrorism, Naxalism, religious violence and caste-related violence are important issues that affect the political environment of the
Indian nation. Stringent anti-terror legislation such as TADA, POTA and MCOCA have received much political attention, both in
favour and opposed.

Terrorism has affected politics India since its conception, be it the terrorism supported from Pakistan or the internal guerrilla groups
such as Naxalites. In 1991 the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during an election campaign.[11] The suicide
bomber was later linked to the Sri Lankan terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as it was later revealed the killing was an
act of vengeance for Rajiv Gandhisending troops in Sri Lankaagainst them in 1987.[11]

The Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992 by Hindu Karsevaks resulted in nationwide communal riots in two months, with
worst occurring in Mumbai with at least 900 dead.[11][12] The riots were followed by 1993 Mumbai Bomb Blasts, which resulted in
more deaths.

Law and order issues, such as action against organised crime are issues which do not affect the outcomes of elections. On the other
hand, there is a criminal–politician nexus. Many elected legislators have criminal cases against them. In July 2008, the Washington
Post reported that nearly a fourth of the 540 Indian Parliament members faced criminal charges, "including human trafficking, child
prostitution immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder".[13]

High Political Offices in India

President of India
The Constitution of India lays down that the Head of State and Union Executive is the President of India. S/He is elected for a five-
year term by an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament and members of legislative assemblies of the
states. The President is eligible for re-elections; however, in India's independent history, only one president has been re-elected,
Rajendra Prasad.

The President appoints the Prime Minister of India from the party or coalition which commands maximum support of the Lok Sabha,
on whose recommendation he/she nominates the other ministers. The President also appoints judges of the Supreme Court and High
Court. It is on the President's recommendation that the Houses of Parliament meet, and only the president has the power to dissolve
the Lok Sabha. Furthermore, no bill passed by Parliament can become law without the president's assent.

However, the role of the president of India is highly ceremonial. All the powers of the president mentioned above are exercised on
recommendation of the Union Cabinet, and the president does not have much discretion in any of these matters. The president also
does not have discretion in the exercise of his executive powers, as the real executive authority lies in the cabinet. The current
President is Ram Nath Kovind.

Vice President of India


The Office of the Vice-President of India is constitutionally the second most senior of
fice in the country, after the President. The vice-
president is also elected by an electoral college, consisting of members of both houses of parliament.

Like the president, the role of the Vice-President is also ceremonial, with no real authority vested in him/her. The Vice-President fills
in a vacancy in the office of President (till the election of a new president). His only regular function is that he functions as the
Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. No other duties/powers are vested in the office. The current Vice President is M.Venkaiah Naidu.

The Prime Minister and the Union Council of Ministers


The Union Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, is the body with which the real executive power resides. The Prime
Minister is the recognized head of the government.

The Union Council of Ministers is the body of ministers with which the PM works with on a day-to-day basis. Work is divided
between various ministers into various departments and ministries. The Union cabinet is a smaller body of ministers which lies within
the Council of Ministers, which is the most powerful set of people in the country, playing an instrumental role in legislation and
execution alike.

All members of the Union Council of ministers must be members of either House of Parliament at time of appointment, or must get
elected/nominated to either House within six months of their appointment.

It is the Union Cabinet that co-ordinates all foreign and domestic policy of the Union. It exercises immense control over
administration, finance, legislation, military, etc. The Head of the Union Cabinet is the Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister of
India is Narendra Modi.

State Governments
India has a federal form of government, and hence each state also has its own government. The executive of each state is the
Governor (equivalent to the president of India), whose role is ceremonial. The real power resides with the Chief Minister (equivalent
to the Prime Minister) and the state council of ministers. States may either have a unicameral or bicameral legislature, varying from
state to state. The Chief Minister and other state ministers are also members of the legislature.

Dynasties in Indian Politics


In recent decades, Indian politics have become dynastic, possibly due to the absence of a party organization, independent civil society
associations that mobilize support for the party, and centralized financing of elections.[4] This phenomenon is seen both at the
national level and the state level. One example of dynastic politics has been the Nehru–Gandhi family which produced three Indian
prime ministers as well as leading the Congress party.[14] At state level, too, a number of political parties, for example: Shiromani
Akali Dal, DMK, Shiv Sena, PDP , Telugu Desam Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Samajwadi Party, are led by family
members of previous leaders.

See also
Government of India
State governments of India
Law of India
Indian political scandals
Disqualification of convicted representatives in India
Political families of India

References
1. M.Laxmikanth. Public Administration (9th ed.). Tata Mcgraw Hill. pp. 389–390.ISBN 0071074821.
2. "General Election 2014"(http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/GE2014/ge.html). Election Commission of India. Retrieved
21 May 2014.
3. "Need for accountability in politics of dynasty"(http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/need-for-accountability-in
-politics-of-dynasty.html). www.dailypioneer.com. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
4. Chhibber⇑, Pradeep (March 2013)."Dynastic parties Organization, finance and impact"(http://ppq.sagepub.com/co
ntent/19/2/277.short). Party Politics by Sage Journals. 19 (2): 277–295. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
5. "Democracy Index 2016"(https://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=DemocracyIndex2016). The
Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
6. Prakash Chander, Prem Arora. "Nature of Party System in India". Comparative Politics & International Relations
.
Cosmos Bookhive. pp. 129–134.ISBN 817729035-5.
7. Krzysztof Iwanek (2 November 2016)."The Curious Stories of Indian Party Symbols"(http://thediplomat.com/2016/1
1/the-curious-stories-of-indian-party-symbols/)
. The Diplomat. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
8. "Election Commission Of India Press Note"(http://eci.nic.in/archive/press/current/PN05122k.htm)
. Retrieved
13 March 2014.
9. [1] (https://www.indianembassy.org/India_Review/2009/June%202009.pdf)Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20
120126154402/https://www.indianembassy.org/India_Review/2009/June%202009.pdf)26 January 2012 at the
Wayback Machine
10. Priyanka Shah (1 November 2014)."13 Amazing Facts about Atal Ji, the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian Politics"(http://t
opyaps.com/n-amazing-facts-about-atalji-the-bhishma-pitamah-of-indian-politics)
. Topyaps. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
11. Guha, Ramachandra (2008).India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy(Indian ed.). India:
Picador. pp. 637–659. ISBN 9780330505543.
12. "Shiv Sainiks will maintain peace post-Ayodhya verdict: Uddhav" (https://web.archive.org/web/20140303165635/htt
p://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/mumbai/shiv-sainiks-will-maintain-peace-post-ayodhya-verdict-uddhav/articl
e1-603031.aspx). Hindustan Times. HT Media Ltd. Archived fromthe original (http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-
news/mumbai/shiv-sainiks-will-maintain-peace-post-ayodhya-verdict-uddhav/article1-603031.aspx) on 3 March
2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
13. Wax, Emily (24 July 2008)."With Indian Politics, the Bad Gets Worse" (https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/cont
ent/article/2008/07/23/AR2008072303390.html) . The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
14. Basu, Amrita; Chandra (Editor), Kanchan (2016).Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary
Indian Politics (https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tesIDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR10&dq=%22political+
dynasties%22+india&ots=panvSUPVV9&sig=rBLRMVvTQ2f7mX6q3bm6Gj6eyfw#v=onepage&q=sonia&f=false) (1
ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 136.ISBN 978-1-107-12344-1. Retrieved 23 May 2016.

Further reading
Chowdhuri, Satyabrata Rai. Leftism in India, 1917-1947. Palgrave, U.K., 2007.
Shively, W. Phillips. Power and Choice: An Introduction to Political Science—Chapter 14 Example: Parliamentary
Government in India. McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2008.ISBN 978-0-07-340391-5
Mitra, Subrata K. and Singh, V.B.. Democracy and Social Change in India: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the
National Electorate. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1999.ISBN 81-7036-809-X (India HB) ISBN 0-7619-9344-4 (U.S.
HB).
Shourie, Arun (2007). The parliamentary system: What we have made of it, what we can make of it. New Delhi:
Rupa & Co.
Shourie, Arun (2005). Governance and the sclerosis that has set in. New Delhi: ASA Publications.
Tawa Lama-Rewal, Stéphanie."Studying Elections in India: Scientific and Political Debates"
. South Asia
Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, 3, 2009.

External links
Outline of the Indian Government

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