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Question

Many people think that a two-party system is required for successful democracy. Drawing from India’s experience of last twenty years, write an essay on what advantages the present party system in India has.

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Solution

Over the years, there has been a lot of debate and discussion that India should adopt the bi-party system, where there are two main political parties in the political system. In such a system, there are two main political parties competing against each other for power. Small parties that are not that powerful and influential can operate and win few seats.

Political analysts have argued that the two-party system is required for the successful functioning of the democracy because of the following reasons:

a. The bi-party system will provide political stability in the system of governance. The party, so elected, will represent the majority of the population. It will provide for strong opposition. The bi-party system will reduce the scope for ambiguity and will provide a clear choice to the voters. It will establish a more responsible government and the opposition will keep a thorough check and provide alternative to the people.India must opt for the two-party system. Having a one-party system, two-party system or multi-party system depends on a variety of factors; it is also very contextual and situational. No system is ideal for all countries and in all situations. A lot of factors determine the party system that works best for a country.
b. India has a multi-party system in which more than two parties operate and compete. Such a party system has functioned well and has evolved over time. The multi-party system has represented diverse sections of the Indian society and has strengthened its democracy by giving ample choice to the people.
c. It has also encouraged voters’ participation, as there are several parties representing diverse interests of people.
d. Such a system ensures greater electoral transparency in the system.
e. The multi-party system has also led to the formation of coalition governments at the Centre, encouraging representation and participation of regional parties in the national decision-making process. It has altered the Centre–state relations and has made the federal polity stronger.
f. The multi-party system has drawbacks too, as decision making often takes a lot of time and involves compromises to accommodate different viewpoints. It leads to political instability. Too many parties often confuse the voters. Also, it is difficult to reconcile conflicting viewpoints and interest, as it may lead to disputes among the parties.
g. So far, the multi-party system has functioned well and redefined the very meaning of democracy.
h. The bi-party system has its own set of flaws, which cannot be overlooked. It is not suitable for a country with diverse interests like India. There is not enough choice for the voters. The choice of voters gets restricted to two parties only. This often leads to cabinet dictatorship by the winning candidates, as it increases their chances of winning again. It also leads to polarisation of the society into two distinct groups and ideologies. Th weaker, disadvantaged section may not get representation.
i. There has been a lot of criticism for our party system that it uses muscle and money to remain in power, encourages dynastic succession and lacks inner party democracy and that its party members are motivated and driven by narrow political interests.
j. We must understand that no system is perfect; striving for an ideal party or political system is a utopian approach. One must strive to make the present system more accountable and responsive to the needs of the people.


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