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Role of Political Parties in India before and after Independence

Posted by Admin on August 15, 2014 | Comment

Contemporary Indian political history is categorised into pre-independence and post-independence era. There is a stark contrast in the way politics used to be played out during the freedom movement days and the shape it has taken after independence. In all these years, India polity has seen a drastic change.

Role of Political Parties before and after partition

Role of National Political Parties Before Independence

It’s fair to say that Indian National Congress dominated the political landscape of India during the pre-independence era. Ever since it was formed in 1885, the party dedicated itself towards strengthening the nationalist movement against the British rule. It set the wheel in motion by organising national and regional campaigns and protest movements. The party embarked upon a policy of boycotting imported British goods and promoting swadeshi goods.

In 1907, the Congress party was split into two. While the moderates such as Dadabhai Naoroji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale wanted reform within the framework of British governance, the radicals such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak emphasised on civil agitation to overthrow the British Empire. Under the aegis of other radical leaders, states like Maharashtra, Punjab and Bengal became the frontrunners in shaping the aspirations of the people.

Initial years of Communist Party of India (CPI) were turbulent as the party struggled to gain credibility. It continued to operate from the underground till 1942 and propagated the ideas of Marxism through weeklies and journals. Despite its cadres being persecuted and repressed by the British, CPI played a seminal role in mobilising the people for the sake of independence.

Simultaneously, a handful of other political parties and social organisations emerged between the 20s and 40s, which included Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). While J&K National Conference is remembered for launching an intensive agitation against the state government and the slogan of “Quit Kashmir”, the RSS presented itself as a social movement.

Role of Political Parties After Independence

Emergence of multi-party system and coalition culture has truly affected the decision-making capability of a nation. Differences among political parties over economic issues have become rampant in India. Both national and regional parties were seen at loggerheads over issues such as free-market economy, privatisation, FDI and neo-liberal policies. The effectiveness of political parties has declined over the years.

Upsurge in Region and Caste-Based Politics

Caste politics gradually penetrated into the system, more so after the end of the Congress domination. It was considered as the end of subjugation and denigration of the lower caste people by their upper-caste counterparts. As cast- based parties emerged, they diligently started working towards “lower caste empowerment.” A feeling of being victimised by the upper caste started to grow among these regional parties. All they wanted was to weaken the upper caste domination in Indian politics.

Change in Agenda and Priorities

The priorities of the political parties in the post-independent era have witnessed a major paradigm shift. Terrorism, insurgency, religious violence, and naxalism are seeping into body politic. The trickle-down effect of corruption is also felt across the parties and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

With multiple parties came an equally diverse set of agenda. While BJP has encouraged free market economy, CPI-M has vehemently opposed globalisation. The equation between the ruling and the opposition has not turned out to be symbiotic. Personal agenda overpowered the larger good of the people. The political motives of regional parties didn’t align with the larger interests of the country. Instead of becoming “effective partners in the process of governance”, these political entities are cashing in on their ‘populist postures.’ The rise of regional parties and a somewhat sidelining of national parties remains a challenge. That has resulted in fragmented votes and fractured mandate, barring the 2014 General Elections.