Political parties have proliferated in India since the 1980s. A marked feature of the growth of parties has been the competitiveness of regional parties. Political entrepreneurs have broken away from established parties and formed separate parties that have competed at both state and national levels of the Indian political system. A few of the newly formed parties became strong competitors in their home units, sometimes leading state governments, demonstrating that they were large parties in their own region. A larger number of regional parties won representation in the Lok Sabha after 1989, but most of these newer parties, and some of the older ones, remained small. In the context of coalition politics many small parties were welcomed into national coalitions. Yet a lack of Assembly seats usually resulted in small parties being excluded from government at the state level. This article develops a typology that distinguishes small parties, active in national and state elections, from the larger regional parties and the hundreds of smaller parties registered with the Election Commission. The wider significance of the small parties is assessed in relation to party system change and the everyday conduct of politics.
- Lok Sabha
- political parties