The outcome of Maharashtra and Haryana elections will reduce the number of national political parties in the country to just three — the lowest since Independence.
Only the BJP, the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will enjoy the national status. The BJP’s stunning win in Haryana and an impressive showing in Maharashtra have dashed the hopes of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to retain their national party status.
“If you go by election (national and state) results, these parties will not be able to meet our conditions,” an Election Commission (EC) official said.
Political parties are required to poll a certain per cent of votes in both national and state elections and also have a stipulated number of seats in the Lok Sabha or assemblies or both to keep the coveted title.
Earlier, the least number of national parties was four, way back in 1957.
Losing national status is not just a loss of prestige or face, there are other problems as well. The NCP and the BSP may lose office space in the Capital.
The bigger worry, however, is they stand to lose monopoly over their party symbols — an elephant for the BSP and a clock for the NCP. The EC can issue the symbols to other parties or Independents.
In August, both the parties had requested the EC to withhold their de-recognisation until the Maharashtra and Haryana polls. They were hoping to improve vote share and retain national status.
They were reacting to an EC notice, asking them why they should not lose their national status following their poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
The NCP won six Lok Sabha seats, all in Maharashtra, while the BSP drew a blank.
For a political outfit to get the national status, at least four states have to recognise it as a political party.
For getting recognised, parties have to fulfil one of the many conditions laid out by the election watchdog.
They should either get at least 6% of the total votes polled in a state during the Lok Sabha poll or assembly election, or win a certain number of seats in either of the two Houses or a combination of both.
Before the Lok Sabha election, there were six national parties but after the BJP’s big win, the Communist Party of India, which won only one seat, was nudged out.