New Delhi (Sputnik): The "national party" status of some of the Indian opposition parties may be up for review by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in view of the existing rules following their latest performance in the 2019 Indian parliamentary elections. The vote was conducted from 11 April to 19 May 2019. The results, which were declared on 23 May, gave a thumping majority to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
On Wednesday, an Election Commission official told Indian daily Hindustan Times that the ECI will assess the performance of each recognised regional and national party based on their results in two consecutive elections. But "if a party was given a regional or a national party status based on their results in 2014 (or later), then they won't come up for review (now)".
Earlier, the Election Commission used to review performances of the parties based on a single election, but after 2016 they changed the criteria to two elections.
"National party" status in India means being eligible for enjoying benefits like a space for party offices in the heart of New Delhi and free airtime on public radio and television broadcasters during elections.
It looks at opposition parties that could not win enough seats out of the total contested by them in the recent elections — i.e. CPI, NCP, BSP, and the AITC, thus may not lose their national status immediately in case there is a review of the national party status.
However, in future, it would be essential for these parties to prove their mettle in the upcoming state assembly elections and secure the required vote share and number of seats so as to remain eligible for national party status.
According to the ECI guidelines, in India, a political party would be declared as a "national party" either if it managed to win 2% of the parliamentary seats from at least three different states in parliamentary elections, or if it polled 6% of the total vote share in at least four states in parliamentary or state assembly elections along with securing four seats in the parliament.
A political party can also be declared as a national party if it happens to be recognised as a "state party" in at least four states.
Speaking on the issue, K. Narayana, national secretary of the CPI, which won two seats in the recent Indian general elections, said: "We haven't received any notification of review from the election commission. But I hope that no party would be disqualified from its national party status only on the basis of technicalities. I hope that the historical existence of the party and their social activities are also taken into account. If required, we would go and explain our stance to the ECI".
A BSP leader, requesting anonymity, said that the party is not worried about ECI review. The party is expected to perform much better than this time in the various forthcoming state elections. BSP won a total of 10 seats in the recent general elections held for the 542 seats of the lower house of the Indian parliament.
The AITC had secured 22 seats, while the NCP managed to get only 5 seats.