The Election Commission of India (ECI), on Monday, recognised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a national party and withdrew the national party status of the All India Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI).
Apart from this, the EC has also removed state party status granted to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in Uttar Pradesh, Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) in Andhra Pradesh, People's Democratic Alliance in Manipur, Pattali Makkal Katchi in Puducherry, Revolutionary Socialist Party in West Bengal and Mizoram People's Conference in Mizoram.
With the removal of the AITC, NCP, and CPI, only six parties will now be recognized as national parties. These include Aam Aadmi Party, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Congress, National People’s Party (NPP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Under what provisions is a national party recognised in India?
India has multiple political parties which fight to prove their majority in elections. Based on objective standards, the Election Commission of India recognises political parties at the national and state levels.
According to the Election Commission, any political party which fulfills any one of the three conditions enlisted by the commission, a party is to be called a "national party". These conditions, as mentioned in the Paragraph 6B of the Symbols Order of ECI, are-
-A party's candidates in at least four states must receive minimum 6% of the total votes cast in each of those states in the most recent national election. In addition, it should have received four Lok Sabha seats.
- A party should win a minimum of 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha. The party's candidates should have been elected from not less than three states.
- A party should be recognised as a "state party" in at least four states.
After winning five seats with a 12.9 percent vote share in the Gujarat Assembly elections in December 2022, the AAP complied with all of these requirements. AAP is now a 'state party' in National Capital Territory of Delhi (since 2013), Punjab (since 2014), Goa (since 2022) and Gujarat (since 2022). Thus, the commission recognised Aam Aadmi Party as a national party with its reserved symbol 'broom'.
What does it mean to be a national party in India?
According to Ajay Gudavarthy, associate professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the recognition of a state party as a national party is accompanied by change in dynamics of that party. Citing the example of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), formerly known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), an Indian political party predominantly active in the state of Telangana, Gudavarthy explained, "The change is not just limited to the nomenclature, that is, from TRS to BRS. Now the party will be catering to the interests of a nation as opposed to a region."
The party officially changed its name on December 8, 2022, before its foray into national politics ahead of the next general elections in 2024.
Speaking to BOOM, Gudavarthy also enumerated other benefits of becoming a national party like eligibility to field more candidates and increase in resource mobility. "Regional parties only get contribution from local corporates, but now with the increase in their reach as a national party, they can get more party funds from outside the state," he said.
Gudavarthy further explained what entails the derecognition of a party from 'national' to 'state'. "TMC contested elections in Tripura and Goa, this year, but they lost their deposit due to low votes and, hence, was derecognised as a national party. This does not mean that the party will be debarred from contesting elections from other states, it still can," he said.
According to political analyst Sanjay Kumar, having a national symbol to be used throughout the nation is one of the key benefits of being recognised as a national party. "A state party may not necessarily be allowed to use its symbol while contesting elections in other states, apart from its home state," he said.
Speaking to BOOM, Kumar explained that being recognised as a national party is more of a technical gain rather than an electoral one. "Although a national party gets the perk of free airtime on state owned television and radio and hiring star campaigners, it will not necessarily translate into votes if the party has not been present on the grounds before the elections," he said.
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