India: Political forces at a glance

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Economist Intelligence Unit
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Politics, Summary, Background, Political forces at a glance
Political Geography

Political outlook: Political forces at a glance

India's constitution came into effect in 1950, underpinning the country's democratic system of governance. The state is technically secular, giving no preference to any of the manifold religious or social groups. India's democracy is well entrenched, and free and fair elections for the national and state parliaments have been held for decades. The country's two major political parties are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the dominant component party of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the Indian National Congress, which governed the country for decades, often in coalition with smaller regional parties. Regional parties are prominent in many state assemblies, enabling them to wield significant influence on national politics through the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of parliament). The BJP holds a majority in the Lok Sabha (the lower house) and governs with the support of smaller parties in the NDA.

The BJP's ideological approach leans towards Hindu nationalism, mixing social conservatism with a more aggressive foreign and security policy. Its growing dominance of national and state governments has thus challenged India's secular tradition. The party has moved recently to extend its vote base beyond its roots in the urban middle class by adopting more rural-focused policies. Congress has a more centre-left ideological approach to socio-economic issues.

Parliamentary forces, August 2019
(no. of seats in the Lok Sabhaa)
National Democratic Alliance 354
 Bharatiya Janata Party 303
 Shiv Sena 18
 Janata Dal (United) 16
 Lok Jan Shakti Party 5
 Apna Dal 2
 Shiromani Akali Dal 2
 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) 1
 All Jharkhand Students Union 1
 Mizo National Front 1
 Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party 1
 National People's Party 1
 Rashtriya Loktantrik Party 1
 Sikkim Krantikari Morcha 1
 Other 1
United Progressive Alliance 93
 Indian National Congress 52
 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 23
 National Congress Party 5
 Indian Union Muslim League 3
 Jammu & Kashmir National Conference 3
 Janata Dal (Secular) 1
 Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 1
 Kerala Congress (M) 1
 Revolutionary Socialist Party 1
 Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi 1
 Others 2
Regional parties, other parties & independents 95
Vacant seats 3
Totalb 545
a The lower house. b Including two representatives of Anglo-Indians appointed by the president.
Source: Lok Sabha.

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