After the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the ‘National Party’ status of some of the parties is being reviewed by the Election Commission of India.
Political parties like Trinamool Congress (TMC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Communist Party of India (CPI) have urged the Election Commission to put the review on hold till the after the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
According to the reports, the Election Commission of India had served show-cause notices to TMC, CPI and NCP on July 18 seeking explanation on why their national party status should not be withdrawn after their disastrous performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The parties were given time till August 5 to respond for the EC notice.
Responding to EC’s notice, the TMC has claimed that it was awarded the national party tag only in 2016 and urged the EC to allow them to retain the status till Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
After the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BSP, CPI and NCP stood to lose their national party status, but the EC at that time had agreed to take a lenient view and decided to review their status after two poll cycles. The TMC has pushed the criteria of two election cycles to seek an extension to their national party status.
According to the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, political parties need to secure at least six per cent of votes in four or more states in Lok Sabha or assembly elections. A political party can also be declared as a national party if it wins 2% of the seats in the Lok Sabha and it wins seats from at least 3 states. Furthermore, it can be awarded the tag if it’s a declared state party in four states. The above-mentioned parties no longer fulfil these criteria.
The CPI has also requested the EC to review its status till after 2024 while citing the party’s history to defend its national character. “We are one of the oldest political parties of this country and have even participated in the freedom struggle. We also continue to have a national presence. We have submitted this reply to EC and they will now consider it,” said CPI general secretary D Raja.
On the other hand, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has requested the Election Commission of India to wait till the Maharashtra Assembly elections results before taking a decision on the national status of the party.
If these three parties are derecognised, only five political parties – the BJP, Congress, National People’s Party, CPM and BSP will continue to be national political parties.
National Parties enjoy certain advantages over state and other registered political parties. Firstly, under the Symbols Order 1968, a party with national status have the right to fight elections using a common symbol across the country. In other words, if a party loses national status, it does not have the right to fight elections using a common symbol across the country.
For example, the analogue clock symbol will not be reserved for all NCP candidates across the country. It can use it only in states where it is recognised as a state party.
Secondly, the National parties receive land or building from the government to establish their party office. Third, national parties can have up to 40-star campaigners while non-national parties can have only up to 20-star campaigners. The expenditure incurred on the travelling and other expenses of star campaigners is not included in the election expenditure of the party candidate.