Recognition of National or State Party

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    • Recently, the AAP was given the status of a ‘national party’ by the Election Commission (EC).
      • The EC also revoked the ‘national party’ status of the All India Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI).
      • The Commission also revoked the state party status granted to few other state parties.

    What is a National Party?

    • The name suggests that a national party would be one that has a presence ‘nationally’, as opposed to a regional party whose presence is restricted to only a particular state or region.
    • National parties are usually India’s bigger parties, such as the Congress and BJP. 
      • However, some smaller parties are also recognised as national parties
    • A certain stature is sometimes associated with being a national party, but this does not necessarily translate into having a lot of national political clout.
    • Some parties, despite being dominant in a major state and having a major say in national affairs, remain regional parties.

    Criterion for recognition

    • The ECI has laid down the technical criterion for a party to be recognised as a national party. 
    • A party may gain or lose national party status from time to time, depending on the fulfilment of these laid-down conditions.
    • As per the ECI’s Political Parties and Election Symbols, 2019 handbook,
    • A political party would be considered a national party if:
      • It is ‘recognised’ in four or more states; or
      • If its candidates polled at least 6% of total valid votes in any four or more states in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly elections and has at least four MPs in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
      • If it has won at least 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha from not less than three states.
    • To be recognised as a state party, a party needs:
      • At least 6% vote-share in the last Assembly election and have at least 2 MLAs; or
      • have 6% vote-share in the last Lok Sabha elections from that state and at least one MP from that state; or
      • At least 3% of the total number of seats or three seats, whichever is more, in the last Assembly elections; or
      • At least one MP for every 25 members or any fraction allotted to the state in the Lok Sabha; or
      • Have at least 8% of the total valid votes in the last Assembly election or Lok Sabha election from the state.

    AAP’s current position

    • The AAP is in power with big majorities and very large vote shares 
      • In Delhi and Punjab. And in the Goa Assembly elections held in March, it received 6.77% of the vote.
    • State party:
      • This meant that going into the Gujarat-Himachal elections, the party already fulfilled the criteria for recognition as a state party in three states.
        • It now required 6% of the vote in the Assembly elections in either Himachal or Gujarat to be recognised in a fourth state — which would qualify it for recognition as a national party.
      • While the AAP got only 1% of the vote in Himachal, the almost 13% vote it got in Gujarat was more than double required to be recognised as a state party there.

    How are Political Parties registered?

    • Political Parties registrations are governed by the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
    • According to the EC, any party seeking registration has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days.
      • Powers conferred by EC under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
      • Section 29A of RPA, 1951: 
        • Indian Citizen, Purpose of contesting elections, & 100 registered electors as its members. 
    • There is no procedure available for the de-registration of dormant political parties.

    Benefits of Political Party Registration

    • It is not mandatory to register with the EC, however, registering has its own benefits like:
      • A registered political party can avail itself of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, (relating to registration of political parties).
      • The candidates set up by a political party registered with the EC will get preference in the matter of allotment of free symbols vis-à-vis purely independent candidates. 
      • More importantly, these registered political parties, over course of time, can get recognition as a ‘state party’ or a ‘national party’ subject to the fulfilment of the conditions prescribed by the Commission in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
      • As per the rules, if a party is recognised as a ‘state party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the state in which it is so recognised. 
      • If a party is recognised as a ‘national party’ it is entitled to exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India
      • In addition, recognised ‘state’ and ‘national’ parties:
        • need only one proposer for filing the nomination and 
        • are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost and 
        • Broadcast/telecast facilities over state-owned Akashvani/Doordarshan during the general elections.
      • But no travel expenses for star campaigners.

    Source: IE