Competition and Contestations in Democracy: NBSE Class 10 Social Science

Competition and Contestations in Democracy
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This article gives a brief summary for quick revision during exams, and MCQs of NBSE Class 10 Social Science Chapter 13 "Competition and Contestations in Democracy".


Chapter summary
MCQs: Exercise
MCQs: Extras

A democratic polity's lifeblood is political parties. This is especially true in a country with a multi-party system like India. There were few countries without political parties a century ago, and there are even fewer now. The majority of countries have multiple political parties.

Meaning and nature 

A political party is a group of people who share a common ideology and seek to form government by contesting elections and winning a majority of the contested seats.

  1. Each political party has a set of policies and programmes that are publicly declared in election manifestos in order to promote the common good of citizens.
  2. Because different political parties have different policies, programmes, and ideologies, they seek popular support in elections in order to be able to implement them.
  3. Each party has a different social base, representing the interests and aspirations of a different segment of society. As a result, partisanship is involved.
  4. A party is known for its ideology, programmes, and policies, as well as the segment of society whose interests it represents.
  5. A political party must have three essential components: leaders, active members, and followers.

Functions of a political party

A political party's primary goal is to form a government at the national or state level. It aspires to do so by securing the greatest number of legislative seats possible.

  1. Political parties nominate candidates to run in various constituencies in an election. Candidates in India are chosen by top leaders of a party who form a committee for candidate selection after elections are declared.
  2. Each party has its own set of ideologies, policies, and programmes that it hopes to implement after forming the government. The ruling party appoints the ministerial council that implements its policies and programmes.
  3. Legislation becomes law after bills are debated and passed by a majority of legislatures. The ruling party has a significant influence over the nature and content of the laws.
  4. The government is formed by the majority party in a legislature. Cabinet committees on political affairs, economic affairs, foreign policy, and so on make major policy decisions for the government. The cabinet, which governs the country, is made up of the party's top leaders.
  5. Parties that fail to form a government serve as opposition both inside and outside the legislature. They investigate and criticise the government for its failings and bad policies. They mobilise public opinion and organise protests against government policies, price increases, poor law and order, and so on.
  6. Opposition parties influence public opinion by organising meetings, demonstrations, protests, dharnas, distributing posters and pamphlets, and highlighting issues in the media.

How many parties should there be? 

Each country has a huge number of political parties. The Election Commission of India has registered around 1866 political parties in India. However, just four or five parties are in the running to win elections and establish a government.

  1. There are three different sorts of party systems: multi-party, two-party, and one-party.
  2. The most common sort of party system is the multi-party system. Three or more parties have the ability to win control of the government in this system, either individually or in an alliance.
  3. People in this system form political parties, which are multiple, different, and formally recognised groups.
  4. Each political party competes for votes. This system is necessary for a representative democracy because it prohibits a single-party government from establishing policies and dominating the government without opposition.
  5. On the negative side, the multi-party system is inefficient and contributes to political instability because no single party has a clear majority most of the time.
  6. On the plus side, for a multi-religious and multi-lingual country like India, with a population of over a billion people, this system is healthy. This system enables a wide range of interests and viewpoints to be represented.
  7. Power transfers between two large dominant parties in a two-party system. To win an election in this system, the winner must receive the greatest number of votes, but not necessarily a majority of votes. Smaller parties either merge with larger parties or withdraw from elections.
  8. Only two parties gain large numbers of seats in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, where such a party system prevails.
  9. Supporters of this system argue that it reduces the risk of fragmentation (i.e., too many parties obtaining seats in various constituencies) and allows the government to function smoothly.
  10. There is no competition in a one-party system. The candidates are nominated by a single party, and voters have only two options.
  11. In Communist countries and other authoritarian governments, this system has proved popular. China, North Korea, and Cuba are among the countries that use this method.
  12. Supporters of the single-party system argue that it allows the government to motivate every citizen to contribute his or her abilities and energies to a common objective.
  13. The single-party system, on the other hand, restricts citizens' choices and freedom. This system is not a suitable choice because it is not democratic.

National political parties and competition and contestations in democracy

Most democracies have two types of political parties: national parties and state parties. National parties are represented in all or many federal units, whereas state parties are represented in only one federal unit.

  1. Every political party in India is required to register with the Election Commission. The Election Commission of India assigns large parties an election emblem and grants them certain rights. These are known as ‘recognized political parties.'
  2. A national party is one that receives at least 6% of total votes cast in a Lok Sabha election or Assembly election in any four states and wins at least four seats in the Lok Sabha.
  3. A recognised party is one that receives at least 6% of the total votes cast in a state's Legislative Assembly election and wins at least two seats.

Major national political parties in India

The Indian National Congress (INC) is the country's first political party. It led the freedom fight against British rule and went on to become free India's most powerful political party after independence. It held this rank until the early 1990s. In terms of ideology, Congress is a centrist party (neither rightist nor leftist).

  1. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was founded in 1980 by resurrecting the former Bharatiya Jan Sangh. It is one of India's two major political parties. It aspires to create a strong and contemporary India by building on India's ancient culture and ideals. Cultural nationalism (or Hindutva) is a key component in its understanding of nationhood and politics. It is strongly sponsored by Hindu organisations, known colloquially as the Sangh Parivar alliance of RSS-led organisations, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) playing a dominant role.
  2. In 1964, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), sometimes known as the CPI (M), split from the Communist Party of India. It is most prevalent in Kerala, West Bengal, and Tripura. It adheres to Marxist-Leninist theories while accepting parliamentary democracy as a means of achieving the goal of socio-economic justice for the oppressed.
  3. The Communist Party of India (CPI) was founded on December 26, 1925. It is a supporter of Marxism-Leninism, secularism, and democracy. On a national level, it backed the previous Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance administration but did not participate in it. It developed a Common Minimum Programme with other UPA Allies. This programme compelled the government to stop disinvesting and instead invest heavily in the social sector and pursue an independent foreign policy. They are attentive to the needs of the poor, they highlight the aspirations and worries of the weak and disadvantaged, and they aim to execute land and labour reform programmes.
  4. The Bahujan Samaj Party is a political party that was founded in 1984 to defend the concerns of OBC, SC, ST, and religious minorities. Kanshi Ram and Mayawati, two leaders of the BSP, founded the party. It had l4 (out of 545) members in the 13th Lok Sabha (1999-2004). The party's major base is in Uttar Pradesh. It has multiple times led the government of Uttar Pradesh. It has a bitter rivalry with Uttar Pradesh's second major state party, the Samajwadi Party.
  5. Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangama, and Tariq Anwar founded the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after leaving the Congress Party in 1999. They were opposed to a person of foreign origin being India's Prime Minister. According to the NCP, it promotes democracy, Gandhian secularism, equity, social justice, and federalism.
  6. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) is a West Bengal-based Indian national political party. Ms Mamta Banerjee created it in 1997. Its main goal is to remove illiteracy, poverty, and injustice, as well as to raise the oppressed by providing social equality, awakening the masses, and participating in the legal political process.

State parties 

The Congress party has weakened in recent decades, while dozens of state and regional parties have developed. Because no single national party can gain a majority in the Lok Sabha, it must rely on the backing of state or regional parties.

  1. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) were key coalition partners in the previous NDA rule. Similarly, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) were key allies in the previous ruling coalition at the Centre, the United Progressive Alliance.
  2. The participation of state parties in government at the Centre has aided in the consolidation of democracy and federalism. Since 1996, practically every state party has had the opportunity to be a part of one or more national-level coalition governments.
  3. Some of them, such as the DMK, AIADMK, Sikkim Democratic Front, Mizo National Front, National Conference, and others, are very aware of their state identity.
  4. The rise of regional parties threatens the dominance of a few major parties. They constitute a sizable parliamentary bloc. Regional parties have increased political competition, and popular participation at the grassroots level has increased.

Shaping of democracy in favour of ordinary people 

The people should be the lords of democracy. Unfortunately, political parties use a variety of unethical tactics to gain power, ignoring people's wellbeing and the interests of regular folks.

  1. Power must be further decentralised to the grassroots level. The constitution was changed in 1992, however, to provide local self-government with more power and effectiveness. In local governments, at least one-third of all jobs are earmarked for women.
  2. Women have historically had a low representation in legislatures. Their Lok Sabha strength is barely about 10% of their entire strength. As a result, women's organisations and campaigners have been demanding that at least one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies be reserved for women.
  3. Pressure groups and movements must unite in order to exert pressure on governments to act in the interests of the common people.
  4. Political parties must be reformed in order to serve the interests of the common people and act on their behalf. There are many flaws in political parties today, such as a lack of internal democracy, dynastic succession, the influence of money and muscle power in elections, voters' limited options, and so on. Laws should be enacted to address the aforementioned gaps.
  5. The focus of election campaigns should be transferred to the development of the people, India's teeming millions. The importance of caste and religion in politics must be completely eliminated.
  6. Political parties should be required to provide a certain amount of tickets to women, Dalits, and the impoverished.
  7. The fundamental principles of democratic governance should be applied throughout all regions, social groups, and institutions. Local governments should be given more power, the federal principle should be extended to all components of the federation, and women, minority groups, and oppressed groups should be included in all welfare initiatives.
  8. Institutions that facilitate people's participation and control should be enhanced. This necessitates an endeavour to reduce the dominance and influence of wealthy and powerful persons in governmental decision-making.
  9. The level of public participation determines the quality of democracy. It will be difficult to alter politics if ordinary citizens just criticise it from the outside. Adopting better policies can help to solve the problem of bad politicians. That is only feasible if ordinary folks participate in the democratic process.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs): Exercise

1. Who chooses the candidates for contesting elections in India?

Answer: (d) None of these

2. Which of these countries has a one-party system?

Answer: (b) China

3. Which of these is not a good option for a democratic state?

Answer: (a) One-party system

4. Which among the following political parties was formed by Kanshi Ram and Mayawati?

Answer: (c) Bahujan Samaj Party

5. Shiromani Akali Dal is associated with

Answer: (b) Punjab

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs): Extras

1. The oldest political party in India 

a. Bharatiya Janata Party
b. Indian National Congress
c. Nationalist Congress party
d. Bahujan Samaj Party

Answer. B. Indian National Congress

2. Bahujan Samaj Party is formed in the year

a. 1981
b. 1982
c. 1983
d. 1984

Answer. D. 1984

3. Bharatiya Janata Party was formed in the year

a. 1971
b. 1985
c. 1980
d. 1979

Answer. C. 1980

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