The Election Commission (EC) revised the list of national and state political parties earlier this week.
The poll watchdog has elevated Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to national party status, while downgrading Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The conditions are laid out in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which are amended from time to time, for recognition of a political party as 'state party' or a 'national party' by the EC.
Recently, the EC made its decision after examining the poll results of the parties in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and also election results of 21 legislative assemblies since 2014. Founded in November 2012, the AAP has already established itself as a state party in Delhi, Punjab, and Goa and its recognition as a state party in Gujarat earned it national party status.
The estate party' can allot its reserved symbol to all the candidates contesting in the state or the states. And, when a party is recognised as a enational party', it can allot its reserved symbol to its candidates contesting from parliamentary constituencies across the country.
The candidate of a estate party' or a enational party' needs only one proposer to endorse her or his candidature while filing the nomination for elections. However, a candidate of an unrecognized political party needs 10 proposers to endorse her or his candidature.
Conditions for a political party to be recognized as a estate party'
A political party can be recognized as a estate party' in a state if the following conditions are met:
(a) In the last election to the legislative assembly of the state, the party's candidates should have secured not less than 6 per cent of the total valid votes polled and at least two of them won, or (b) the party should have secured 3 per cent of the total number of seats or at least three seats in the assembly, whichever is more
(c) The candidates set up by the party have secured not less than 6 per cent of the total valid votes polled in the state
(d) At the last general election to the House of the People from the State, the party has returned at least one member to the House of the People for every 25 members or any fraction thereof allotted to that state
(e) At the last general election to the legislative assembly of the state, the candidates set up by the party have secured not less than eight percent of the total valid votes polled in the State.
Conditions for a political party to be recognized as a enational party'
A political party can be recognized as a enational party', if it meets any of the following conditions:
(a) The candidates set up by the party, in any four or more states, at the last general election to the House of the People, or to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned, have secured not less than six percent of the total valid votes polled in each of those states at that general election
(b) In addition, it has returned at least four members to the House of the People at the aforesaid last general election from any State or States
(c) At the last general election to the House of the People, the party has won at least two percent of the total number of seats in the House of the People, any fraction exceeding half being counted as one
(d) The party is recognized as state party in at least four states
Advantages of being a national party
(a) There are specific advantages for a party granted national status, such as reserved party symbols, and its candidates get more coverage on television and radio during elections
(b) The right to use a reserved symbol, which is unique to the party, can't be used by anyone else, is granted to a national party for all elections held across the country
(c) A national party can contest in elections across the country and field candidates in any state
(d) A national party can engage 40 estar campaigners' and their expenses are not included in the party's overall costs of organising an election campaign. A registered unrecognised party is allowed to nominate a maximum of 20 star campaigners
(e) A party with the 'national' status gets land from the government to build its headquarters
(f) A party is given two free sets of electoral rolls during the roll revision and it also gets one free electoral roll for each candidate during general elections
Conditions for continued recognition of a party as a estate party' or a enational party'
In 2016, the Election Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968. It allowed a political party to retain the estate party' or enational party' tag even after it loses eligibility in the next Lok Sabha or state assembly election.
However, if the party fails to regain eligibility in the subsequent election to the state assembly or the Lok Sabha, then it will lose its status.
Why is AAP a national party, and TMC, NCP, and CPI stripped of enational party' status?
In the recently held Gujarat elections, the AAP won five out of 182 seats and received 12.92 percent of valid votes polled. The AAP has got the status of estate party' in four states, as a result the EC recognised it as a enational party'.
The NCP, in the assembly elections between 2017 and 2018, lost its state party status in Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya, where the percent of valid votes polled were 2.28 per cent, 0.95 per cent, and 1.61 per cent, respectively.
The NCP, however, is a state party in Maharashtra -- in the 2019 assembly election, it received 16.71 per cent of the vote share -- and it was also granted state party status in the Nagaland election held earlier this year. In Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, the NCP lost its estate party' status and as a result lost its enational party' status.
According to the EC, in the 2019 Lok Sabha election the TMC did not contest in Arunachal Pradesh or Manipur, however it received 0.40 per cent and 43.28 per cent of the vote in Tripura and West Bengal.
In the West Bengal state assembly election in 2021, TMC secured 48.02 per cent vote. However, the party did not contest in Manipur in 2022.
In assembly elections between 2016 to 2018, TMC got 44.91 per cent of the vote in West Bengal, 1.41 per cent in Manipur, and 0.30 per cent in Tripura, but did not contest in Manipur (2022). TMC was de-recognised by the EC as a estate party' in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and it also withdrew its enational party' status.
The CPI is a state party in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Manipur, however it lost the state party status in West Bengal and Odisha, as a result it is not a national party anymore.