From new to incumbent: A brief look at our political parties

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 24, 2012 20:29 hrs

So activist Arvind Kejriwal has come out with the Aam Aadmi Party. Kejriwal has in the past received a lot of criticism for taking the political path with barbs coming from left, right and centre. But he is riding on the wave of a very popular movement against corruption, arguably India's biggest enemy right now.

It makes sense to launch a political platform based on that.

This is just the beginning and it could become a big political movement in the future. Movements and organizations come and sometimes look hopeless but may bear fruit many years or decades later.

All the current parties should not forget that they too were launched one day and could have gone bust.

A look at how long the current crop of political parties took to come into power.

National Level:

Indian National Congress, 62 years (1885-1947):

It was launched by a small elite group of people and soon became synonymous with India's freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi widened its base exponentially. When we got Independence, it was a virtual dictatorship and ruled all the states. Its influence started waning at the regional level in the 1960s and it first lost power at the Centre in 1977.

RSS/Jana Sangh/BJP, 52 years (1925-77):

India's right-wing movement has seen many transformations. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 as the political wing of the RSS, which itself was founded in 1925. The Jana Sangh became part of the ruling coalition in 1977. Reborn as the BJP in 1980, it first gave support at the Centre in 1989 and itself became part of the ruling coalition in 1996.

Janata Party (1977):

This party had the most spectacular rise and the most spectacular fall. It wasn't even a proper party at the time of the 1977 elections and all member parties fought on their respective election symbols. It won a whopping 345 seats, but infighting rendered it totally irrelevant by 1980.

Janata Dal, 1 year (1988-89):

VP Singh formed this party by merging his Jan Morcha, Lok Dal, Congress (S) and what was left of the Janata Party. It ruled from 1989-91 and 1996-98 producing four Prime Ministers: VP Singh, Chandrashekhar, HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral.

While many people say that it has been a failed experiment, it is still hugely successful at the regional level. Its splinter groups are ruling in Uttar Pradesh-Samajwadi Party, Bihar -Janata Dal (U) and Orissa-Biju Janata Dal. Other groups that have ruled in the past include RJD-Bihar and Janata Dal (S)-Karnataka.

Samata Party and Lok Janshakti Party are some of the other breakaways.

State Level:

Communist Party of India, 32 years (1925-57):

Immediately after Independence, it leaned towards violence and lost momentum at the political level. But it was the main opposition to the Congress for quite some time and first came to power in Kerala in 1957.

CPM, 13 years (1964-77):

It was formally launched in 1964, splitting from the CPI and soon became a force on its own. Its biggest success was to rule West Bengal for an unbroken period of 34 years from 1977-2011.

BSP, 11 years (1984-95):

While Kanshi Ram was the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party, full credit for building it into a strong force in Uttar Pradesh has to go to his protege Mayawati. She has singlehandedly changed the fortunes of the party and may well become Chief Minister of UP again in the future.

TDP, 1 Year (1982-83):

This is also one of the fastest success stories. Movie superstar NT Rama Rao launched the Telugu Desam in 1982 and within a year was Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. In 1984, the TDP emerged as the biggest Opposition party to the Congress in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections!

AGP (1985):

The Asom Gana Parishad was created after the Assam Accord and won the state elections immediately. At that time, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta emerged as the youngest Chief Minister in the country.

Madras/Tamil Nadu:

AIADMK is currently ruling in Tamil Nadu. It was born after breaking away from the DMK in 1972 and came to power in 1977. The DMK was formed in 1949 and came to power in 1967, the first ever non-Congress party to win an election outright, without being part of a coalition.
The DMK was formed from the Dravida Kazhagam, which had its origins in 1925 when it broke free from the Congress.

1925 is a landmark year for it also saw the founding of the RSS and CPI.

Shiromani Akali Dal, 47 years (1920-67):

 The SAD was initially formed as a task force of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. It came to power in Punjab in 1967, a landmark year, when the Congress lost many states.

National Conference, 16 years (1932-48):

 Sheikh Abdullah was the brain behind the All India Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and was the first to snatch away a state from the Congress.

Shiv Sena, 29 years (1966-95):

 Late Bal Thackeray's party came to power in alliance with the BJP in 1995 and saw two Chief Ministers of Maharashtra from its ranks.

Trinamool Congress, 13 years (1998-2011):

This is another one-person show and Mamata Banerjee gets full credit for toppling CPM rule in West Bengal

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at