Explained: What’s a national party? Why CPI, TMC, NCP lost the tag and AAP gained it

Explained: What’s a national party? Why CPI, TMC, NCP lost the tag and AAP gained it

The Election Commission of India on Monday (April 10) granted national party status to Arvind Kerjiwal’s AAP while revoking the same designation for CPI, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC and Sharad Pawar’s NCP. The development could provide a significant advantage to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has ambition to spread its wings across the country, in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Also Read: Trinamool Congress to challenge EC decision after losing national party status

The EC also revolved state party status from 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.

What is a national party?

As per the criteria set by the EC, a political party can be classified as a “national party” if it fulfils any of the following three conditions:

  1. The party must have received at least 6% of the total votes polled and won a minimum of four seats in the Lok Sabha from at least four different states in the last national election.
  2. The party must have won at least 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha, with candidates elected from at least three different states.
  3. The party must have been recognised as a “state party” in at least four states.

Earlier, seven political outfits were classified as national parties: TMC, Bahujan Samaj Party, BJP, CPI, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Indian National Congress, and NCP.

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However, after the EC’s latest decision, the country now has five national parties, including new entrant AAP.

TMC was granted national party status in 2016 but lost it due to its poor performance in states such as Goa and northeast India. NCP, founded by Sharad Pawar in 1999, was designated as a national party in 2000 after several successful election wins. The CPI, founded in 1925, was recognised as a national party in 1989 but had its status withdrawn after a weak showing in elections in West Bengal and Odisha.

Perks and benefits

Indeed, being recognised as a national party in India comes with several benefits and privileges. Some of these include:

  1. A national party is entitled to a reserved symbol for its exclusive use throughout the country in all elections.
  2. A national party can receive electoral funding from the government based on the number of votes it receives in national and state elections.
  3. National parties are entitled to a minimum of two election broadcasts on Doordarshan and All India Radio during elections.
  4. National parties can appoint agents to observe elections in any constituency.
  5. National parties can contest elections in any state without being required to fulfil the criteria of having a certain number of candidates or vote share in that state.
  6. National parties have access to office space in the Parliament House complex.
  7. National parties have the power to nominate members to various councils and committees.

With the loss of national party status, TMC, NCP, and CPI will lose these exclusive perks and privileges.

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In August 2016, the EC made a change in its rule to review the national and state status of political parties once every 10 years instead of five. As a result, the current national and state parties will retain their status until 2026.

Although the EC has the authority to register political parties, it is not authorised to deregister any party. Following the revocation of its national party status, the TMC is reportedly expected to challenge the decision in a court of law.

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