Q What is a political party?

Ans A Political party refers to a group of people formed for contesting elections and for holding power in government.

Q Match List I (organisations and struggles) with List II and select the correct answer using the codes given below the lists:

List-I List-II
(i) Congress Party (A) National democratic Alliance
(ii) Bharatiya Janata Party (B) State party
(iii) Communist Party of India (Marxist) (C) United Progressive Alliance
(iv) Telugu Desam Party (D) Left Front

Codes:

(i) (ii) (iii) (iv)
(a) C A B D
(b) C D A B
(c) C A D B
(d) D C A B

Ans (c) (i) C, (ii) A, (iii) D, (iv) B.

90. What is the guiding philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party ?

  • 1. Bahujan Samaj
  • 2. Revolutionary democracy
  • 3. Integral humanism
  • 4. Modernity

Ans 4. Modernity

Q What are the characteristics of a political party ?

Ans The characteristics of a political party are as follows:

  • 1. A political party considers those policies and programmes which are collectively good for the society.
  • 2. Political parties contest election to form the government.
  • 3. If a political party is unable to win a majority, it can make an alliance with other parties to form a coalition government.
  • 4. Political parties try to influence people that their policies are better than others.

Q Describe any five major functions of political parties perform in a democracy.

Ans Five major functions of political parties performed in a democracy are mentioned below:

  • 1. To contest elections: In a democratic country, elections are fought amongst the candidates who are put up by the political parties. There are many extraordinary ways of choosing candidates. For example, in India, pinnacle leaders pick their candidates who will fight elections for their party.
  • 2. Forming policies and programs: Each political party puts forward its policies and agendas to deliberate for the welfare of the society. Voters pick from them, as every individual will have an exceptional view factor as to which policies are correct for the society and which are not.
  • 3. Law Making: When a party wins and comes to power, it makes legal guidelines for the country. Irrespective of their private opinions, participants of the ruling party follow the directions given by the leaders. Formally, legal guidelines are debated and then passed by the legislature.
  • 4. Government Formation: Political parties recruit leaders, train them and then make them ministers to run the government in the way they want.
  • 5. Shaping Public Opinion and helping in the process of political socialisation : Political parties have lakhs of members, activists, pressure groups (extensions of political parties) which are spread all over the country. These members raise their voices against wrong, highlight relevant issues, and on several occasions also launch movements to solve the problems faced by common people and thus help in the formulation of public opinion of people for their political system.

Q What are the various challenges faced by political parties?

Ans Various challenges faced by political parties are as follows:

  • 1. Firstly, there is lack of democracy within a party, as power is mainly concentrated in the hands of a few top leaders. Moreover, there are no membership registers, internal elections are also not held regularly, and ordinary members lack access to information and can’t influence decisions. Any disagreement with the leaders makes it difficult to continue in the party.
  • 2. Secondly , there is a tendency of dynastic succession, i.e., offering unfair advantage based on favouritism. However, such a practice shatters the spirit of democracy when the incapable and inexperienced people come into power.
  • 3. Thirdly , there is increase in the use by power of money and muscle, especially during elections. Those who can raise funds are nominated. Those people who provide funds to parties, influence policies.
  • 4. Fourthly, parties fail to offer meaningful choices to voters which reduces the options for voters. The reasons for this is less ideological differences between parties. For example, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party in Britain agree on fundamental aspects and differ on framing and implementation of policies.

Q Suggest some reforms to strengthen parties so that they perform their functions well.

Ans Some reforms to strengthen parties so that they perform their functions well are as follows:

  • 1. Our constitution has been amended to prevent changing of parties by elected MPs and MLAs. Legally, those MLAs and MPs who attempt defection will lose the seats in the legislature.
  • 2. The Supreme Court recently passed an order to reduce the effect of money and criminals. Now, it is compulsory for a candidate, desirous of contesting elections, to provide an affidavit about his property details and criminal cases pending against him.
  • 4 . The Election Commission passed an order which makes it mandatory for political parties to hold their organisational elections and urges them to file their income tax returns.

Q Why do not parties give enough tickets to women? Is that also due to lack of internal democracy?

Ans Patriarchal system prevails in Indian society and man folks want to establish their authority everywhere and politics is not an exception. Giving tickets to women candidates will mean that the power will come in the hands of women which is not desirable. Yes, it is an example of lack of internal democracy as equal opportunities are denied within a party. At least one-third of the seats should be reserved for woman candidates.

Q Does the cartoonist reflect the data graphics shown below :

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Ans Yes.

Q Most cartoons caricature politicians. From the cartoons below, can you identify which of the challenges described in this section are being highlighted in these cartoons. They related to Italy, US and India.

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Ans It reflects the challenge of use of money and muscle power in elections, which is often faced by countries during election periods.

Q Do you agree that this form of reforming political parties will be acceptable to them ?

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Ans Using media and propaganda are a fair means to reform political parties. These should be acceptable to them as it is as per the principle of democracy. Refusal to people’s demands clearly means losing power in forthcoming elections.

Q Okay, granted that we can’t live without political parties. But tell me how do we live with the kind of political parties we have?

Ans All the political parties have, more or less, a similar approach. It is in people’s hands to mould political parties as per their desires. Political parties are a part of the society and they represent the thoughts of the people. In case, the political parties are not working in the right direction, it is in the hands of the people to bring about a change by not supporting the party.

Q Categorise these photographs by the functions of political parties they illustrate.

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  • Ans (i) Playing the role of opposition party.
  • (ii) Implementation of policies and programmes.
  • (iii) Election campaigns.

Q What did Kishenji mean by an alternative political formation?

Ans The question came up in a conversation between Sudha, Karuna, Shaheen and Gracy. All four women had led very powerful people’s movements in different parts of the country. They were meeting in a village in Odisha, away from their day-to-day struggles, to think afresh the future of people’s movements.

The discussion naturally turned to Kishenji, who was regarded as a friend, political philosopher and moral guide by all the movement groups in the country. He had argued that people’s movement should embrace politics openly. His argument was simple yet powerful. Movements focused on a single issue are suitable as long as we wish to achieve limited changes in a particular aspect of life. But if we wish to bring about a fundamental social transformation, or basic change even in one aspect of life, we would need a political organisation. People’s movement must establish a new political formation to act as a moral force in politics. This was an urgent task, he said, because all the existing political parties had become irrelevant for social trans-formation.

“ But Kishenji never clarified what that organisation will be. He talked of an alternative political formation or a third force in politics. But did he mean a political party?” said Gracy. She felt that an old style political party was not the right instrument for social change.

Sudha agreed with her. “I have thought about it several times. I agree that all the struggles that we are involved with—the struggle against displacement, against globalisation, against caste and gender oppression and for an alternative kind of development—all this is political. But the moment we form a party, all the goodwill we have earned all these years will be lost. People will think of us as no different from other politicians.”

“ Besides”, added Karuna, “we have seen that a lot can be achieved by putting pressure on the existing political parties. We tried putting up candidates in panchayat elections, but the results were not very encouraging. People respect our work, they even adore us, but when it comes to voting they go for the established political parties.”

Shaheen did not agree with them : “Let us be very clear. Kishenji wanted all the people’s movements to forge a new political party. Of course he wanted this party to be a different kind of a party. That party was not for political alternatives, but for an alternative kind of politics.”

Q Let us apply what we have learnt about party systems to the various States within India. Here are three major types of party systems that exist at the State level. Can you find the names of at least two States for each of these types?

Ans Two-party system : Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh.
Ans Two-party system : Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh.
Multi-party system with two alliances : Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand.
Multi-party system : Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh.