TMC, CPI loss is AAP’s Gain, What does the National Party Status Mean?

A recognised national party can contest on all Lok Sabha and assembly seats on its symbol. It also gets free airtime during elections on public broadcasters and space for a party office in New Delhi.

national Election commission

In a significant development, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has stripped the Communist Party of India (CPI), Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of their ‘national party’ status. They will be treated henceforth as regional parties.

On the other hand, the EC named AAP as a national party based on its electoral performance in four states — Delhi, Goa, Punjab and Gujarat. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party is in power in Delhi and Punjab.

The BJP, Congress, CP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), National People’s Party (NPP) and the AAP are now national parties. The Election Commission, meanwhile, derecognised NCP, CPI and TMC as national parties.

Reason For Derecognition

The ECI’s latest order comes in response to the show-cause notices issued to TMC, CPI, and NCP in July 2019, which had specifically sought an explanation on why their national party status should not be revoked, after their performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, according to Indian Express.

In their response, these parties requested the poll panel to allow them to retain the national status till 2024. The EC subsequently deferred its decision to review the national status of the parties.

In its order, the Commission also revoked the state party status granted to RLD in Uttar Pradesh, BRS in Andhra Pradesh, PDA in Manipur, PMK in Puducherry, RSP in West Bengal and MPC in Mizoram.

The Commission said that NCP and Trinamool Congress will be recognised as state parties in Nagaland and Meghalaya respectively based on their performance in the recently concluded assembly elections.

TIPRA Motha recognised as a ‘state party’ in Tripura while KCR’s BRS, earlier known as TRS, lost its ‘state party’ status in Andhra but retained it in Telangana.

The national and state party statuses are reviewed every 10 years, after the EC amended the rules in 2016, before which the revision was to happen every five years.

What Makes a Party ‘National Party’?

According to paragraph 6B of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, a political party needs to satisfy any one of three conditions to be recognised as a “national party”.

First, it needs to secure at least six per cent vote share in at least four states during the last Lok Sabha polls or assembly elections. In addition, no less than four Lok Sabha MPs should be elected “at the last general election” from any state or states.

Second, a party satisfies the recognition criteria if it gets at least two per cent of the total seats in the last Lok Sabha election and the elected members come from at least three different states.

Third, as in the case of AAP, the party is recognised as a ‘state party’ in at least four states.

Fourth, if the party has “one member to the House of the People for every 25 members or any fraction thereof allowed to that state”.

The last criteria to be recognised by the EC is, for a party’s candidates to secure at least eight per cent vote share in the state assembly elections or in the last Lok Sabha polls from the state.

The newly assigned status of national party for AAP will definitely be a boost to the party workers and in 2024 elections and as a challenge for both BJP and Congress.

Likewise, downgrading the status of parties like TMC, NCP, and CPI is not good news for democracy overall as it makes the number of MPs less representative and lead to more centralisation.

When a national party status is achieved, a party posses number of advantages such as common party symbol across states, free airtime during elections on public broadcasters, space for a party office in New Delhi, etc. A recognised national party can contest on all Lok Sabha and assembly seats on its symbol. It also gets to field more star campaigners for electioneering.

After losing the national party status, TMC is exploring legal options to challenge the decision of the Election Commission, a party source said.

The Nationalist Congress Party on Monday said it would react to the Election Commission stripping the Sharad Pawar-led outfit of its ‘national party’ status after receiving the order in written form.

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June 2024
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