Sharad Pawar-led NCP, Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and CPI have another woe to worry about. After their dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, it seems that they could lose their status as a national party. The Election Commission of India is preparing to issue the parties show cause notices this week, highlighting their ineligibility for the tag. The EC will enquire as to why their national tags should not be removed.
As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, a party is recognized as a ‘national party’ if the party contests the elections from four or more states at the Lok Sabha election or the Legislative Assembly election and secures at least 6% of the total votes polled in each of the states in a Lok Sabha election and elects at least 4 members to the Lower House from any state.
If this condition isn’t fulfilled, the order paves way for another criterion wherein if the party has won at least 2 percent of the total number of seats in the Lok Sabha, from 3 or more states, it would be considered as a national party.
Not only this, if the party is recognized as a state party in at least four states, it would be given the status of national party.
After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the TMC CPI, BSP and NCP were on the verge of losing their national party status after their dismal performance in the elections. The EC had issued show-cause notices to the parties. However, the EC amended its rules in 2016, which gave them a breather. According to the amended rule, if a particular political party fails to fulfill the ‘national party’ criteria in an election after the election in which it was recognized as a national party, the status isn’t going to change. However, the status may change if the inability to fulfill the conditions is further continued in the subsequent elections, which is exactly what has happened this time around.
Though BSP isn’t under the water this time around, seeing as though it has won 10 Lok Sabha and some Assembly seats, the others are very much threatened.
NCP’s poor performance in the North East is likely to cost it its national status, whereas, TMC’s lack of presence in other states has worked against it. CPI is ineligible in terms of proportion in votes and presence in states.
A National party status has many benefits, including the fact that it allows a political party to retain a single and permanent election symbol across all states. Moreover, it also qualifies them to be given free campaign slots on national broadcasters during elections along with having the right to a party office in New Delhi.
As of now, the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Indian National Congress (INC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and National People’s Party of Meghalaya have national party status. Now it seems as though 3 may be eliminated, bringing down the number to 5 parties.