NCERT Class 10 Civics Chapter 6 - Political Parties

Chapter 6 Political Parties

Question 1: What is a political party? What are its components?

• A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.
• They agree on some policies and programmes for the society with a view to promote collective good.
• They seek to implement these policies by winning popular support through elections.
• Components of a political party are: the leaders, the active members and the followers.
• Examples of political parties: Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Telegu Desam Party, etc.

Question 2: Explain the functions of political parties.

• To contest elections: In democracies, elections are fought among the candidates put by different political parties. Parties select their candidates in different ways. In India, top party leaders choose candidates for contesting election.
• Policies and programmes: Parties put forward different policies and programmes and the voters choose from them.
• Make laws: Political parties play a decisive role in making laws for the country. Formally laws are debated and passed in the legislature. But the party members go by the direction of the party leadership.
• Form and run governments: Big policy decisions are taken by the political executive. Parties recruit leaders, train them and then make them ministers to run the government in the way they want.
• Role of opposition: The opposition party members criticize government for its failures or wrong policies. They also mobilize opposition for the government.
• Parties shape public opinion: They raise and highlight issues. They sometimes launch movements for the resolution of problems faced by the people.
• Provide access to government machinery and welfare schemes: People feel close to the political executive/local party leader, whom they approach, to address their grievances and to get rid of them.

Question 3: Explain briefly about the different types of party systems.
The different types of party systems are:
• One Party System: In some countries only one party is allowed to control and run the government. Example, in China, only Communist Party is allowed to rule.
→ Merits:
• Since there is no opposition party, government is strong and cannot be removed or voted out of power.
• Since there is only one party and one candidate of the party, not much money is spent on the election.
→ Demerits:
• Government can become dictatorial.
• It gives no choice to the voters.

• Bi-Party System/Two Party System: In some countries, power usually changes between two main parties. Several other parties may exist, contest elections and win a few seats in the national legislatures. But only the two main parties have a serious chance of winning a majority of seats to form government. Example, USA and UK

• Multi Party System: If several parties compete for power and more than two parties have a reasonable chance of coming to power wither on their own strength or in alliance with others, we call it a multi-party system. Example, India
→ Merits:
• Multi-party system allows a variety of interests and opinions to enjoy political representation.
• People have an opportunity to make a choice between several candidates.
→ Demerits:
• This system often appears very messy.
• This system sometimes leads to political instability.

Question 4: Which one of the party systems is better? / “Party system evolves over a long time.” Explain. / Why did India opt for a multi-party system?

• Party system is not something any country can choose.
• It evolves over a long time, depending on the nature of society, it social and regional divisions, its history of politics and its system of elections.
• Every country develops a party system that is conditioned by its special circumstances.

• In India, we have opted for a multi-party system. It is because the social and geographical diversity in such a large country is not easily absorbed by two or even three parties.

Question 5: Differentiate between national political parties and regional political parties.

→ National Political Parties:
• A party that secures at least 6% of the total votes in Lok Sabha elections or assembly elections in four states and wins at least four seats in the Lok Sabha is recognized as a national party.
Ex: Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata party etc.

→ Regional Political Parties:
• A party that secures at least 6% of the votes in an election to the legislative assembly of a state and wins at least wo seats is recognized as a state/regional political party.

Question 6: Explain briefly about the challenges to political parties.

→ Lack of internal democracy:
• Parties do not keep membership registers, do not hold organizational meetings and do not conduct internal elections regularly.
• Ordinary members have no knowledge on what is happening inside the party. They do not have the means or the connections needed to influence the decisions.
• As a result, the leaders assume greater power to make decisions in the name of the party.

→ Dynastic succession:
• Transparent ways are not practiced by political parties, so there are very few ways for ordinary workers to reach top.
• Leaders of a party have a position of an unfair advantage to favour people close to them or even their family members.
• In many parties, top positions are always controlled by members of one family, which is unfair to other members of the party and to the party too since people without adequate experience or popular support occupy positions of power.

→ Money and muscle power:
• Since parties are focused only on winning elections, they tend to nominate those candidates who have or can raise lots of money.
• Rich people and companies who give funds to the parties tend to have influence on the policies and decisions of the parties.
• In some cases, parties support criminals, who can win elections through coercion and force.

→ Lack of meaningful choice:
• In recent years, there has been a decline in the ideological differences among parties.
• Very often parties do not seem to offer a meaningful choice to the voters.
• Parties agree on some fundamental aspects but differ only in details on how policies are to be framed and implemented.
• Sometimes, the same set of leaders keep shifting from one party to another, thus people have no option available to them.

Question 7: How can parties be reformed?

• The constitution was amended to prevent MPs and MLAs from changing parties in order to become ministers or for cash rewards (defection).
• Now the law says that if any MP or MLA changes parties, he/she will lose the seat in the legislature.
• The Supreme Court passed an order making it mandatory for every candidate who contests elections to file an affidavit giving details of his/her property and criminal cases pending against him/her.
• The election commission passed an order making it necessary for political parties to hold their organizational elections and file their income tax returns.

Question 8: Mention some suggestions made to reform political parties.

• A law should be made to regulate the internal affairs of political parties.
• It should be made mandatory for political parties to give 1/3 of tickets to women candidates.
• There should be state funding of elections.
• People can put pressure on political parties through petitions, publicity and agitations to bring in reforms.
• People, who wish to bring about reforms to political parties, should join politics, rather than criticize it from the outside.

Question 9: Why can’t modern democracies exist without political parties?

• Every candidate in the election will be independent. So, no one will be able to make any promises to the people about any major policy changes.
• The government may be formed, but its utility will remain uncertain.
• Elected representatives will be accountable to their constituency and no one will be responsible for the country.

Question 10: Write briefly about the following:
Indian National Congress
Bharatiya Janata Party
Bahujan Samaj Party
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)
Communist Party of India (CPI)
Nationalist Congress Party

→ Indian National Congress
• Founded in 1885.
• Played a dominant role in indian politics at the national and state level for several decades after india’s independence.
• A centrist party (neither rightist nor leftist) in its ideological orientation. The party espouses secularism and welfare of weaker sections and minorities. Supports new economic reforms but with a human face.

→ Bharatiya Janata Party:
• Founded in 1980.
• Wants to build a strong and modern india by drawing inspiration from india’s ancient values.
• Cultural nationalism (Hindutva) is an important element in its conception of indian nationhood and politics.
• Wants full territorial and political integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India, a uniform civil code for all people living in the country irrespective of religion and ban on religious conversions.

→ Bahujan Samaj Party:
• Founded in 1984.
• Founder: Kanshi Ram
• Seeks to represent and secure power for Dalits, adivasis, OBCs and religious minorities.

→ Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)
• Founded in 1964.
• Believes in Marxism-Leninism. Supports socialism, secularism and democracy and opposes imperialism and communalism.
• Enjoys strong support of poor, factory workers, farmers, agricultural labourers and the intelligentsia.

→ Communist Party of India (CPI)
• Founded in 1925.
• Believes in Marxism-Leninism, secularism and democracy.
• Opposed to the forces of secessionism and communalism.

→ Nationalist Congress Party:
• Formed in 1999.
• Espouses democracy, Gandhian secularism, equity, social justice and federalism.
• Wants that high offices in government be confined to natural born citizens of the country.

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