The Election Commission (EC) will review after every 10 years, instead of five years, if a political party is eligible for a state or national party status that secures their poll symbols, among other benefits.
The EC’s decision to stop the status check after every assembly and Lok Sabha election is widely seen as a relief for parties like Mayawati’s BSP, CPI and Sharad Pawar’s NCP.
National status allows political parties to use a single
symbol in all states for elections. National parties are also eligible for an office space in the Capital, are provided limited free airtime on public broadcast mediums for campaigning and exemption of travel expenditure for 40 star campaigners from being billed to the candidates’ accounts.
There are six national parties in India: the Congress, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, BSP and NCP, and 64 recognised state parties.
Under the new system, the BSP will be the immediate gainer. The party, which failed to get a single seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, is contesting the upcoming 2017 UP state assembly elections.
“If the review is done now, we might save our status by a whisker. But the CPI will definitely lose its national status,” said a CPI(M) central committee member.
To obtain a national status, political parties have to fulfil any of the three conditions: winning 2% seats or 11 seats in the Lok Sabha from at least three different states in the latest general election or, recognition as a state party in at least four states or polling 6% of the total valid votes in at least four states, in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats.
According to sources, the commission had received applications from as many as nine parties, including CPM, NCP, RJD, RLD and BSP to allow parties to retain their national and state party status and to review these only after two consecutive elections.
“In the past too, the EC has made changes to the law to accommodate the concerns of political parties. This time was no different. Parties such as BSP, CPM and NCP were on the verge of losing their status based on the results of the 2014 general elections and EC took a considered view of their representation,” an official said. Sources told HT that the parties had told the commission that the outcome of one election was not a good measure of their performance.