The Election Commission is reviewed the status of political parties. Based on their performance in the last two elections, the poll panel issued notices to three political parties – the CPI, the NCP and the TMC. All three had been asked them to explain why their national party status should not be revoked. According to The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, a political party can be recognised as a national party if it fulfills certain conditions.
Election Commission (EC) has amended rules, whereby it will now review the national and state party status of political parties every ten years instead of the present five.
- Recognition as a national or a State party ensures that the election symbol is not used by any other political entity in polls across India.
- The commission has amended paragraph 6C of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to affect the change. It was last amended in 2011.
- This change in rules will ensure that ruling parties do not lose their status due to anti-incumbency factor after every election.
- However, the criteria of being recognised as a national and state party will remain unchanged.
EC’s powers in a dispute over the election symbol in case a party splits:
- Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, states “when rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party, the commission after taking into account all the facts and circumstances of the case decides that
- one such rival section or group is recognised
- none such section or group is recognised
- decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups
- This applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties.
- For splits in registered but unrecognised parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.
- In case of disagreement the EC asks the party to prove its strength through its elected representatives (MPs and MLAs).
- The party claiming the particular symbol if proves its majority through its elected representatives claims the symbol.
- So far there hasn’t been any court case with respect to allocation of symbols.
- In cases like the split of CPI in 1968 a breakaway group approached the ECI urging it to recognise them as CPI(Marxist).
- The ECI recognised the faction as CPI(M) after it found that the votes secured by the MPs and MLAs supporting the breakaway group.
- In case of split in AIADMK in 1987 the issue was resolved before EC was forced to make a decision on which group should retain the symbol.
- In 1997 ECI introduced a new rule in which the splinter group had to register itself as separate party and could claim national or state party on the basis of its performance in state or central elections after registration.
Registration of political parties:
- Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- A party seeking registration under the said Section with the Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days following the date of its formation as per guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission of India in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 of the Commission of India and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
To be eligible for a ‘National Political Party of India:
- It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in any four or more states, at a general election to the House of the People or, to the State Legislative Assembly.
- In addition, it wins at least four seats in the House of the People from any State or States.
- It wins at least two percent seats in the House of the People (i.e., 11 seats in the existing House having 543 members), and these members are elected from at least three different States.
To be eligible for a ‘State Political Party:
- It secures at least six percent of the valid votes polled in the State at a general election, either to the House of the People or to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned
- In addition, it wins at least two seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned.
- It wins at least three percent (3%) of the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State, or at least three seats in the Assembly, whichever is more.
- If a party is recognised as a State Party’, it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it in the State in which it is so recognised, and if a party is recognised as a `National Party’ it is entitled for exclusive allotment of its reserved symbol to the candidates set up by it throughout India.
- Recognised `State’ and `National’ parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination and are also entitled for two sets of electoral rolls free of cost at the time of revision of rolls and their candidates get one copy of electoral roll free of cost during General Elections.
- They also get broadcast/telecast facilities over Akashvani/Doordarshan during general elections.
- Political parties are entitled to nominate “Star Campaigners” during General Elections. A recognized National or State party can have a maximum of 40 “Star campaigners” and a registered un-recognised party can nominate a maximum of 20 ‘Star Campaigners”.
- The travel expenses of star campaigners are not to be accounted for in the election expense accounts of candidates of their party.