India is the world's most populous democracy. A parliamentary republic with a multi-party system, it has six recognised national parties, including the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and more than 40regional parties. The Congress is considered centre-left or "liberal" in Indian political culture, and the BJP centre-right or "conservative". For most of the period between 1950—when India first became a republic—and the late 1980s, the Congress held a majority in the parliament. Since then, however, it has increasingly shared the political stage with the BJP
as well as with powerful regional parties which have often forced the creation of multi-party coalitions at the Centre.
India is a federation with a parliamentary system governed under the Constitution of India, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, in which "majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law". Federalism in India defines the power distribution between the federal government and the states. The government abides by constitutional checks and balances. The Constitution of India, which came into effect on 26 January 1950, states in its preamble that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. India's form of government, traditionally described as "quasi-federal" with a strong centre and weak states, has grown increasingly federal since the late 1990s as a result of political, economic, and social changes.
7 union territories. All states, as well as the union territories of Pondicherry and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, have elected legislatures and governments, both patterned on the Westminster model. The remaining five union territories are directly ruled by the Centre through appointed administrators. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, states were reorganised on a linguistic basis. Since then, their structure has remained largely unchanged. Each state or union territory is further divided into administrative districts. The districts in turn are further divided into tehsils and ultimately into villages.