Special Sub-Topic: Indian Political Parties
|The oldest and biggest political party in India is the Congress I, what does the I stand for?|
Indira. The Indian National Congress (INC) is the oldest political party in India, founded in 1885 by an Englishman A.O Hume. Since independence, the party has been dominated by the Nehru family, with first Jawaharlal Nehru and then his daughter Indira Gandhi, followed by Indira's son Rajiv and his widow Sonia. The party split in the year 1967 into two groups, Congress (O - Organization) and Congress (I - Indira, after Indira Gandhi). The Congress (I) was later recognized as the real Congress party by the Election Commission.
|The biggest challenger to the Congress party has been the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). What is the electoral symbol of this party?|
Lotus. In Indian elections, the electoral symbols played an important role, right from the first election - the reason being the high levels of illiteracy. Till date, parties are known by their election symbol. National political parties have a reserved symbol which is exclusively allotted for their use. 'Lotus flower' is the symbol of the BJP, 'Hand' is the symbol of the Congress (I) and 'Hammer and sickle' is of course the symbol of the Communists (CPM). 'The cow and calf' was the original symbol of the Congress party after Independence. The BJP is a rightist party, which ruled India from 1998-2004 under the stewardship of Atal Behari Vajpayee.
|The Communist Party of India has pockets of influence in India. Which of these states in India is known as an unconquerable bastion of the leftists?|
West Bengal. The Communist Party of India (CPI) split in 1962 and the splinter group the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) became powerful. Kerala and West Bengal are two states where the CPM is strong, but Kerala has always witnessed a keen battle between the CPM and the Congress; but it is West Bengal that has been the unconquerable bastion of the communists. The CPM first won the state elections in 1977 and Jyoti Basu became Chief Minister. From 1977 till 2008, the communists have been in office in West Bengal and no party has been able to defeat them.
|One of the right wing parties in Indian politics is the Shiv Sena. Who is the founder of the Shiv Sena?|
Bal Thackerey. Balasaheb Thackerey is the founder of the extreme right wing Hindu nationalist party, the Shiv Sena. The Shiv Sena (which means army of Shiva) was founded in 1966 by Thackerey who was a cartoonist by profession. The politics of the Shiv Sena is based on 'preference to local people' and 'Hindutva'(Hindu nationalism). Uddhav Thackerey is his son who succeeded him as President of the party, Raj Thackerey is his nephew who broke away and founded the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Smita Thackerey is his daughter-in-law associated with Bollywood. The electoral symbol of the Shiv Sena is 'Bow and Arrow'.
|A prominent regional party in India is the AIADMK. Who founded this party?|
M G Ramachandran. The AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) was founded by Tamil film star MG Ramachandran (known as MGR) in 1972, after he broke away from his parent party DMK (founded by Annadurai and headed later by Karunanidhi). MGR was a very popular leader and became Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu. After his death in 1987, his co-star in many films J Jayalalitha took over as leader of the AIADMK. The electoral symbol of the AIADMK is 'two leaves'.
|The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is a regional party, which grew so fast that it was elevated as a national party. Who founded the BSP?|
Kanshi Ram. The Bahujan Samaj Party, BSP (Party of the majority, referring to the downtrodden) is a party founded in 1984 by Kanshiram. The party was inspired by the principles of Dr. Ambedkar, father of the Indian constitution. The party was founded to address the needs of the lower castes and minorities. Since its inception, the party has grown quick and fast and its leader Mayawati became the Chief Minister of the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh (UP). After Kanshi Ram's death, Mayawati has taken over as the undisputed leader of the party. The electoral symbol of the BSP is the 'elephant'.
|The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is an important regional party in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Who is the founder of this party?|
N T Rama Rao. N T Rama Rao or NTR as he was called was a prominent film star of the Telugu film industry in Andhra Pradesh. He founded the Telugu Desam (Telugu nation) party in 1982. He achieved instant success, getting a majority in the state elections and becoming Chief Minister. In 1995, his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu toppled him and took control of the party and following NTR's death continues to be president of the party. The electoral symbol of the TDP is the 'cycle'.
|The Janata party founded in 1977 has split, merged, split, re-merged umpteen number of times. One of its incarnations is the Janata Dal (Secular); who is the founder of this party?|
H D Deve Gowda. H D Deve Gowda is a political leader from the state of Karnataka, who was Chief Minister of the state. In 1996, he was the surprise choice for Prime Minister of India, when his party the Janata Dal had a chance to rule. He later split the party and founded the Janata Dal (Secular), JDS. This party is active mainly in Karnataka. The party's electoral symbol is 'a lady carrying a haystack'.
|Just as the Janata Dal split many times, the Congress party too has had splits. One of its splinter groups is the Trinamool Congress. Who founded this party?|
Mamata Bannerjee. Mamata Bannerjee is a politician from the state of West Bengal, who initially was a member of the Congress party. She was known as a strong opponent of the communists. In 1998, she broke away from the Congress party and founded the Trinamool (grassroots) Congress. She allied with the BJP and was a union minister in the Vajpayee Government. The electoral symbol of the Trinamool Congress is 'two flowers with three petals each'.
|One of the partners of the Communist party is the Forward Bloc. Who founded this party?|
Subash Chandra Bose. One of the members of the Left Front of Bengal is the Forward Bloc party. This party was founded by Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, one of the great freedom fighters of India. The party was founded by Bose in 1939 as an alternative to the Congress. But the party did not grow substantially and its presence is mainly in West Bengal where it is a junior partner of the CPM. Its electoral symbol is a 'tiger and hammer-sickle'. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was the founder of the Jan Sangh (precursor to the BJP, EMS Namboodripad and Prakash Karat have been General-secretaries of the CPM.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction