The essence of Parliamentary democracy is party government. And a party government cannot succeed without an organised party system. To maintain the democratic character of a party government, there should be continuous and responsible criticism both within the legislature and elsewhere.
In the absence of such criticism, the Government would soon become an autocracy and later, a tyranny. But criticism cannot be effective if it is only sporadic, and it becomes even useless when it is only casual. To make it sustained and effective, it should be organised.
Hence the necessity for deliberately organised political parties whose business it is to oppose the Government, to expose its defects and depose it when the time is ripe.
It is true that the Constitution does not give expression to parties except in an oblique manner. The only provision which has anything directly to do with this is Article 75(3) which ensures the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the House of the People.
But the spirit that underlies the fundamentals of the Constitution envisages a party system which implies all the above principles. To a great extent, even legal sanction has been given to them, by the Election Commission of India officially recognising political parties in India on an all-India or regional basis for the purposes of conducting elections.
The Commission had in 1962 given recognition of an all-India status to five parties, the Indian National Congress, the Praja Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Swatantra Party and the All India Jan Sangh.
In 1977 by the time the Sixth General Elections took place, the number of recognised all-India parties came down to four because of the emergence of the Janata Party consisting of the Socialist Party, the Jan Sangh, the B.L.D. and the Old Congress. The four all- India parties so recognised were: Indian National Congress, Janata Party, Communist Party of India and Communist Party (Marxist).
With the elections to the Seventh Lok Sabha in 1980 the party picture had again undergone considerable change mainly because of the split in the Janata Party. In the 1989 General Elections, according to the Election Commission of India, 117 political parties participated. Of these, eight were National Parties; twenty were State Parties and 89 unrecognised registered parties.
The same position continued to exist in 1991 when the country went to polls in a mid-term election to elect the tenth Lok Sabha and at the end of the General Elections of 1996 which elected the eleventh Lok Sabha.
The leading national parties at the Tenth Lok Sabha Elections were: Indian National Congress, Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party Marxist (CPM).
The relative positions of different parties in the Lok Sabha at the end of each Parliamentary Elections from 1952 are shown in Table 8 on P. 152 – 153. The position of each Party at the end of the Fourteenth General Elections is given on p. 266.