In a big boost to Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on April 10, 2023, accorded it the status of a national party while withdrawing the same for the Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India, and the Nationalist Congress Party.
With the removal of NCP, CPI, and TMC, there are now only six national parties in the country – BJP, Congress, National People’s Party, CPM, Bahujan Samaj Party and the latest addition AAP.
According to Election Commission rules, a party gets national status if it is recognized as a state party in four states. For recognition as a state party, it has to secure at least six percent of the valid votes polled and two seats each in Assembly or Lok Sabha polls.
The AAP got the status of a national party as it secured nearly 13 percent of the vote share and five seats in the Gujarat Assembly polls earlier this year making it the state party in four states—Delhi, Goa, Punjab and Gujarat.
Reacting to his party getting the national party status, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “National party in such a short time? This is nothing less than a miracle. Many congratulations to all. Crores of people of the country have taken us till here. People expect a lot from us. Today people have given us this huge responsibility. Lord, bless us so that we can fulfill this responsibility well”.
The ECI announcement of national party status for AAP comes a week after the Karnataka High Court last week directed the election commission to pass an order before April 13 on the matter. Thus, the Karnataka polls on May 10 would be the AAP’s first election as a “national party”.
On the other hand, it was a setback for the TMC, CPI and NCP with the poll body withdrawing their national party status citing the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968.
Under the provisions of the Symbols Act, candidates put up by registered unrecognized political parties at elections are allotted election symbols by the Returning Officers of the constituencies concerned after the last date for withdrawal of candidature as per availability. Thus the party cannot use a single poll symbol across the country.
The NCP also lost its status as a state party in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, the CPI in West Bengal and Odisha, while the TMC was derecognized as a state party in Arunachal Pradesh and Manpur.
NCP leader and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule said that they have to accept the order and study. “Once we receive the official order copy, we will study the reason. Beyond this I have nothing to comment,” she said.
The NCP and Trinamool Congress will, however, be recognised as State parties in Nagaland and Meghalaya respectively based on their electoral performance in the assembly polls.
The ECI also revoked the State party status granted to Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh, Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Andhra Pradesh, People’s Democratic Alliance in Manipur, Pattali Makkal Katchi in Puducherry, Revolutionary Socialist Party in West Bengal and the Mizoram People’s Conference in Mizoram.
The Tipra Motha in Tripura, Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) in Nagaland and Voice of the People Party in Meghalaya were granted “recognised State political party” status.
A recognised political party enjoys privileges like a reserved party symbol, free broadcast time on state-run television and radio, consultation in the setting of election dates, and giving input in setting electoral rules and regulations.