We, the Parties: Outlines of Partisan Constitutionalism

This paper pushes back against the extant conceptualisation of political parties in comparative constitutional law, by locating party politics at the heart of the Indian constitutional structure. Although the original Indian Constitution was party agnostic, the subsequent constitutionalization of party politics offers a distinctive role of parties in the constitutional order. In particular, this paper deals with the principle of (non)partisanship, which shapes the relationship between political parties and constitutional organs. This principle, I will argue, takes two forms – partisan parliamentarism and partisan federalism – articulating two different conceptions of the role of parties in the operation of the legislature and Centre-State relations respectively. I will conclude with implications of this distinctive status of parties for the regulation of party finance, factionalism, electoral speech and candidate selection.