Political parties are one of the earliest available and visible institutions in a democracy.
A political party is an association of people who come together on a common platform with the objective of contesting elections.
A political party has three components-leaders, active members and followers.
The main functions of political parties are to contest election, put forward policies and programmes, make laws, form a government, perform role of opposition, share public opinion and undertake welfare activities.
Political parties are necessary because they lay down foundations of a strong representative democracy. There are many political parties in a country so that people may have choices.
Political parties are of two types-national, which have representation in the whole country and regional, which are limited to one region only. INC, BJP, BSP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP are recognised as national parties in India.
Since coalition parties emerged in India, there has been a flurry of regional parties in India.
Political parties face a number of challenges like lack of internal democracy, dynastic succession, money and muscle power and lack of meaningful choice before people.
Parties need to be reformed by promoting internal democracy, increasing women’s representation and through state funding o1 elections. Only then, democracy can thrive in plural democracies like India.