[Term 2] Political parties notes class 10 – CBSE class 10 notes social science

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Contents

Political parties mind map

Political parties Mind Map Class 10

Political parties notes class 10

A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold
power in the government.

Why do We Need Political Parties?

Political parties are one of the most visible institutions in a democracy. For the ordinary citizens, democracy is equal to political parties. It is important to know the nature and working of political parties.

Meaning of Political Parties

A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.

All political parties have some policies and programmes for the society with a view to promote the collective good. They try to persuade people why their policies are better than others. They seek to implement their policies by winning popular support through elections.

Political parties reflect fundamental political divisions in a society. All the parties favour certain part of the society and thus they involve partisanship1.

A party is known by which part it stands for, which policies it supports and whose interests it upholds.

A political party has following three components

(i) The leaders (ii) The active members (iii) The followers

Functions of Political Parties

Political parties performs the following functions:

(i) Candidates are put forward by political parties to contest elections. These candidates may be chosen by the top leaders or by members of the party. In some countries like USA, members and supporters of a party choose its candidate. In India top party leaders choose candidates for contesting elections.

(ii) Parties put forward their policies and programmes for voters to choose from them.

(iii) Political parties play a major role in making laws for the country. No law can become a bill unless majority parties support it. Laws are debated and passed in the Legislature.

(iv) Political parties form and run governments. The big policy decision taken by political executive come from the political parties. Parties recruit leaders, train them and make them ministers.

(v) Parties that lose election, play the role of opposition to the party in power. They criticise government for their wrong policies and mobilise opposition to the government.

(vi) Parties shape public opinion. They raise and highlight issues. Parties have large number of members and activists spread all over the country. Many of the pressure groups act as extension of political parties. Parties sometimes also launch movements for the resolution of the problem faced by the people.

(vii) Political parties provide people access to government machinery and welfare schemes. It is easy for the public to approach their local party leader than a government officer. The local party leader has to listen to people’s need and demands, otherwise people can reject them in the next elections.

Necessity of Political Parties

Political parties are needed because they perform variety of functions. Modern democracies cannot exist without political parties.

Without existence of parties, following situations may occur:

  • Every candidate in the elections will be independent. 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 ever uncertain. Elected representatives will be accountable to their constituency for what they do in the locality. But no one will be responsible for how the country will be run.
  • The non-party based elections to the Panchayat occur in many states of India. Here the parties do not contest formally. It is generally noticed that the village gets split into more than one group, each of which puts up a ‘panel’ of its candidates. This creates need for the political party.
  • The rise of political parties is directly linked to the emergence of representative democracies. As societies became large and complex, they needed some agency to gather different views on various issues and to present these to the government.
  • Society needs a mechanism to support or restrain the government, make policies, justify or oppose them. Political parties fulfil these needs of every representative government.

class 10 political parties notes

How Many Parties Should We have?

The different countries around the world opt different party systems. Broadly, political party system can be divided into following three categories.

(i) One-Party System In this party system, only one party is allowed to control and run the government. For example, China has one-party system. This system is not a good option for democracy because it does not provide a fair chance for competing parties to gain power.

(ii) Two-Party System In this party system, two parties have a serious chance to win majority and form government. The power usually changes between two main parties. The United States of America and United Kingdom are the examples of two-party system.

(iii) Multi-Party System In this party system, more than two political parties contest election to gain power. In India, there is a multi-party system with more than 750 parties registered by the Election Commission of India. It allows a variety of interests and opinions to enjoy political representation.

Coalition of Parties

In India, government is formed by various parties coming together in a coalition. When several parties in a multi- party system join hands for the purpose of contesting and winning, it is called alliance or front.

For example, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in India.

Ideal Party System

Party system evolves over a long time, depending on the nature of society, its social and regional divisions, and history of politics. The social and geographical diversity of our country is not easily absorbed by two or even three parties. Thus, India has a multiparty system.

Political parties are facing crisis of unpopularity and indifference among the citizens. The evidence, based on a series of large sample surveys conducted over several decades, shows that.

  • Political parties do not enjoy much trust among the people in South Asia.
  • Still the level of participation in the activities of political parties is fairly high.
  • The proportion of the members of some political party is higher in India than many advanced countries like Canada, Japan, Spain and South Korea.
  • Over the last three decades, the proportion of members close to a political party in India has gone up steadily.

How Many Parties Should We have?

The different countries around the world opt different party systems. Broadly, political party system can be divided into following three categories.

(i) One-Party System In this party system, only one party is allowed to control and run the government. For example, China has one-party system. This system is not a good option for democracy because it does not provide a fair chance for competing parties to gain power.

Types of Political Parties

Democracies that follow a federal system all over the world tend to have two kinds of political parties.

(i) State Parties Parties that are present in only one of the federal units.

(ii) National Parties Parties that are present in several or all units of the federation.

In India, there are both National and State parties. Every party in the country has to register with the Election Commission.

National Parties

A party that secures at least 6% of the total votes in Lok Sabha elections or Assembly elections in 4 states and wins at least 4 seats in the Lok Sabha, is recognised as a National Party. The commission treats all parties equally, but it offers some special facilities to large and established parties. These parties are given a unique symbol. Only the official candidates of that party can use that election symbol.

These parties are called recognised political parties due to special privileges and facilities provided to them by the Election Commission. Some National Political Parties of India In 2018, there were seven recognised national political parties in the country. These are,

(i) Indian National Congress (INC) It is popularly known as the Congress Party which is one of the oldest parties of the world founded in 1885. It supports secularism2 and welfare of weaker sections and minorities.

(ii) Communist Party of India (CPI) It was founded in 1925. It believes in Marxism-Leninism3, secularism anddemocracy. It opposes the forces of secessionism and communalism. It has significant presence in Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

(iii) Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) It was founded in 1964. It believes in Marxism-Leninism. It supports socialism, secularism and democracy and opposes imperialism and communalism. It enjoys strong support in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala.

(iv) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) It was founded in 1980, by reviving the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh. The aim of the party isto build a strong and modern India by drawing inspiration from India’s ancient culture and values. It came to the power in 1998 as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance including several state and regional parties.

(v) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) It was founded in 1984, under the leadership of Kanshi Ram. It seeks to represent and secure power for the Bahujan Samaj

which includes the Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and religious minorities. It has its main base in Uttar Pradesh and substantial presence in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttaranchal, Delhi and Punjab.

(vi) All India Trinamool Congress

(AITC) It was formed on 1st January, 1998 under the leadership of Mamta Banerjee. This party is recognised as a National Party in 2016. The party symbol is flowers and grass. It has its presence in West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura.

(vii) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) It was founded in 1999, following a split in the Congress Party. It supports democracy, Gandhian secularism, equity, social justice and federalism. It has its significant presence in Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam.

Note : Currently (November, 2021) there are eight recognised national parties. The National People’s Party (NPP) was accorded the status of nation party on 7th June, 2019. The party symbol is Book.

State Parties

A party that secures at least 6% of the total votes in an election to the Legislative Assembly of a state and wins at least 2 seats, is recognised as a State party. These are commonly referred to as regional parties. Some of the regional parties are all India parties have succeeded only in some states. Parties like the Samajwadi Party, Samata Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal have national level political organisation with units in several states.

Some of these parties like Biju Janata Dal, Sikkim Democratic Front and Mizo National Front are consciousabout their state identity.

Status of State Parties

Over the last three decades, the number and strength of these parties has expanded. This made the Parliament of India politically more and more diverse. No national party is able to secure on its own a majority in Lok Sabha.

As a result, the national parties are compelled to form alliances with state parties. Since 1996, nearly every state party has got an opportunity to be a part of one or the other national level Coalition Government. This has contributed to the strengthening of federalism and democracy in our country.

Challenges to Political Parties

Popular dissatisfaction and criticism has focussed on four problem areas in the working of political parties. Political parties need to face and overcome these challenges which are

Lack of Internal Democracy within Parties

In most of the political parties, the power is concentrated in the hands of one or few leaders at the top. Parties do not keep membership registers, do not hold organisational meetings and do not conduct internal elections regularly. Ordinary members of the party do not get sufficient information about the happenings inside the party.

The leaders assume greater power to make decisions in the name of the party.

Dynastic Succession

The top positions in many political parties are generally controlled by members of one family. Leaders on the top have unfair chance of favouring their families and friends. This is also bad for democracy, since people who do not have adequate experience or popular support, come to occupy positions of power. This tendency is present in all over the world, including some older democracies.

Money and Muscle Power

This is a prominent challenge to political parties during elections. Since parties are focussed only on winning elections, they tend to use shortcuts to win elections. Such shortcuts include the following

  • 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 party.
  • In some cases, parties support criminals who can win elections.

Meaningful Choice to the Voters

It states that very often parties do not seem to offer a meaningful choice to the voters. In order to offer meaningful choice, parties must be significantly different.

Like for instance, sometimes people cannot even elect very different leaders as the same set of leaders keep shifting from one party to another.

Reformation of Political Parties

In order to face the challenges, political parties need to be reformed. Some of the recent efforts and suggestions in our country to reform the political parties are:

  • Anti-Defection Law According to this law, MLAs or MPs cannot change the party after the election.

If any MLA or MP changes parties, he or she will lose the seat in the Legislature. This was done because many elected representatives were involved in defection4 in order to become ministers or for cash rewards.

  • Details of Property and Criminal Cases In order to reduce the influence of money and criminals, the Supreme Court of our country passed an order. Now, it becomes mandatory for every candidate who contest elections to file an Affidavit5 giving details of his property and criminal cases pending against him. But there is no system to check if the information given by the candidate is true or not.
  • File an Income Tax Return The Election Commission passed an order making it necessary for political parties to hold their organisational elections and file their income tax returns. The parties have started doing so, but sometimes, it is only formality.

Besides these suggestions, many other suggestions are often made to reform political parties which are:

  • A law should be made to regulate the internal affairs of political parties. It should be made compulsory for political parties to maintain a register of its members, to follow its own Constitution, to have an independent authority, to act as a judge in case of party disputes and to hold open elections to the highest posts.
  • It should be made mandatory for political parties to give a minimum number of tickets (about one-third) to women candidates. Similarly, there should be a quota for women in the decision-making bodies of the party.
  • There should be state funding of elections. The government should give parties money to support their election expenses.
  • We must be very careful about legal solutions to political problems. Over-regulation of political parties can be counter-productive.

There are two other ways in which political parties can be reformed

(i) People can put pressure on political parties through petitions, publicity and agitations. If political party feels that it would lose public support, it would become more serious about reforms.

(ii) Political parties can improve if those who want this, join political parties. The quality of democracy can be improve by the public participation. If ordinary citizens do not take part in politics then reforming politics is impossible.

Political parties Important terms

Political party: A political party is a group of people with a definite agenda and who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.

Election: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.

Mono-party system: Mono-party system is a political system in which only one party controls and runs the government.

Bi-party system: Bi-party system is a type of system in which power alternates between two parties only. The party that gets the majority forms the government and the other party forms opposition.

Coalition government: A coalition government is generally formed in a multi-party system, when no single party wins a majority of seats then many parties get together based on compromise and tolerance.

An Alliance: When several parties in a multi-party system join hands for the purpose of contesting elections and winning power, it is called an alliance or a front.

National party: A party that secures at least 6% of the total votes in Lok Sabha elections or wins four seats in the Lok Sabha is recognized as a national party.

Regional party: All parties, other than the six national parties, are classified as state parties by the Election Commission of India. They are also called regional parties.

Defection: Changing party allegiance from the party on which a person got elected (to a legislative body) to a different party.

Affidavit: A signed document submitted to an office where a person makes a sworn statement regarding his/her personal information including property and criminal cases pending against him.

Election Commission: An autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in a country.

Political parties Quick Revision

What is a political party?

A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold
power in the government.

It mobilises voters to support common sets of interests, concerns and goals.

A political party fixes the political agenda and policies and tries to persuade people
by claiming that their policies are better than those of other parties.

A political party is the means through which people can speak to the government
and have a say in the governance of any country.


A political party has three components:

  • The leaders
  • The active members
  • The followers

Functions:

  • Parties contest elections by putting up candidates.
  • In some countries, candidates are selected by members and supporters of a party, e.g., the USA.
  • In other countries, candidates for contesting elections are chosen by top party leaders, e.g., India.

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