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Political Parties of India

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National Congress (INC)

It is the oldest Indian political party and may perhaps also be the largest and oldest democratic organization in the world. It was formed in 1885 and was the most powerful force behind the country's struggle for independence. A.O. Hume was its first president. It has been in power for the longest period starting from when India gained freedom. Even when out of power the party has been a strong opposition and has brought many a government down. Over its long span of existence, the party has undergone many splits and even now has parties like the Trinamool and the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party), which are breakaway groups. The party has had an almost dynastic characteristic. Starting with Jawahar Lal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, to his daughter, Indira Gandhi, on to Rajiv Gandhi, the congress has had a dynastic form of succession, which was broken due to the untimely death of young Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi before that. Having no grown up direct descendant from the clan the party had to opt for PV Narasimha Rao. But once Narsimha Rao was involved in corruption charges they were left once again in a dilemma and went for the nearest dynastic option, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, The wife of the late Rajiv Gandhi. She was made party president after a lot of wooing, and has been their prime ministerial candidate.

BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party is the most prominent member of the "Sangh Parivar". The RSS, the first of the Parivar( family) was founded by Dr Hedgewar in 1925 and consolidated by Shri Guruji after 1940. Then was born the Bhartiya Jana Sangh (BJS) under the leadership of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951, under the blessings of Shri Guruji. The BJS later reorganized itself as the Bharatiya Janata Party. Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu is the party president and since the party is in power Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the Prime Minister and Mr. Lal Krishna Advani is the Deputy Prime Minister.

In India, political fortunes change dramatically; from a 2 MP (members of Parliament) party the Bharatiya Janata Party is now heading the government, having emerged as the single largest party. It has spread its wings across India and is surely a party to reckon with. In 1998, the party fought the elections by forming alliances with a number of regional parties and was able to get a majority.

The main hurdle in the rise of the party has been its image of a "communal" party. The party firmly believes that almost all Indians are converts from Hinduism and should revert back to their roots in Hinduism and that India is a Hindu nation in spirit if not constitutionally. Many parties are unwilling to go along with the ideology of the party and try to form alliances to deter the party to get to power. Certain parties like the CPI (M) are willing to join hands with parties with conflicting ideologies because the fell it is the lesser evil. From being untouchable before 1998, the BJP has managed to form alliances and even the government, and would have completed its full term but for its decision to go for early elections.

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