The Maharashtra State Election Commission on Wednesday decided to cancel the registration of 191 political parties, including the All India Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by MP Asaduddin Owaisi, for failing to submit documents such as Income Tax (I-T) returns. The Hyderabad-based party, will be able to contest polls in the state, but will not get a symbol of its choice. The symbol of the party is a kite. The AIMIM has now decided to challenge the decision.
The decision will only be in effect for local body elections in the state. There will be no limitations on these political parties for the state Assembly and the Lok Sabha polls because those are handled by the Election Commission of India and not the state election commission.
Most parties that have lost their registration are small outfits, except AIMIM, the Republican Party of India (Democratic) and the Republican Party of India (Khobragade).
All the political parties concerned must now register themselves again with the commission, but will also have to pay a penalty of Rs1 lakh, said an election commission official.
“Our order is related to registration only. The parties that are registered with us get priority when choosing a symbol for elections,” JS Saharia, state election commissioner said.
He said parties have to follow certain procedures and submit documents such at I-T returns and an annual audit report every year to remain registered.
“We have given them enough time to submit those documents. We also served a couple of notices and released advertisements in newspapers. But they failed to do submit them. So, this decision was taken,” Saharia told HT.
AIMIM legislator Imtiyaz Jaleel said the civic body elections are very important for the party. “We had received a notice four months ago from the election commission, asking us for some documents. We had complied the very next day. We will file an appeal,” Jaleel told HT.
AIMIM, which has the backing of several Muslim voters, is seen as a competitor to the Congress and other parties in getting minority votes. This decision, therefore, could be a setback for the party and good news for the Congress.