The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was leading in 5 seats in Gujarat after more than seven hours of counting of votes on December 8, but its vote-share was close to 13%, which meant it is on track to be recognised as a national party by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
एक छोटी सी आम आदमी पार्टी को राष्ट्रीय पार्टी बनाने के लिए गुजरात की जनता का बहुत-बहुत शुक्रिया और सभी देशवासियों को बहुत-बहुत बधाई।
हम भारत को No. 1 राष्ट्र बनाने के संकल्प पर अडिग हैं। 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/RbQTs4L9wc
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) December 8, 2022
The name suggests that a national party would be one that has a presence ‘nationally’, as opposed to a regional party whose presence is restricted to only a particular state or region.
National parties are usually India’s bigger parties, such as the Congress and BJP. However, some smaller parties, like the communist parties, are also recognised as national parties. A certain stature is sometimes associated with being a national party, but this does not necessarily translate into having a lot of national political clout.
Some parties, despite being dominant in a major state — such as the DMK in Tamil Nadu, BJD in Odisha, YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh, RJD in Bihar, or TRS in Telangana — and having a major say in national affairs, remain regional parties.
The ECI has laid down the technical criterion for a party to be recognised as a national party. A party may gain or lose national party status from time to time, depending on the fulfilment of these laid-down conditions.
गुजरात की जनता के वोट से आम आदमी पार्टी आज राष्ट्रीय पार्टी बन रही है.
शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्य की राजनीति पहली बार राष्ट्रीय राजनीति में पहचान बना रही है.
इसके लिए पूरे देश को बधाई.
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) December 8, 2022
As per the ECI’s Political Parties and Election Symbols, 2019 handbook, a political party would be considered a national party if:
i. it is ‘recognised’ in four or more states; or
ii. if its candidates polled at least 6% of total valid votes in any four or more states in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly elections and has at least four MPs in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
iii. if it has won at least 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha from not less than three states.
To be recognised as a state party, a party needs:
i. at least 6% vote-share in the last Assembly election and have at least 2 MLAs; or
have 6% vote-share in the last Lok Sabha elections from that state and at least one MP from that state; or
ii. at least 3% of the total number of seats or three seats, whichever is more, in the last Assembly elections; or
iii. at least one MP for every 25 members or any fraction allotted to the state in the Lok Sabha; or
iv. have at least 8% of the total valid votes in the last Assembly election or Lok Sabha election from the state.
This meant that going into the Gujarat-Himachal elections, the party already fulfilled the criteria for recognition as a state party in three states.
It now required 6% of the vote in the Assembly elections in either Himachal or Gujarat to be recognised in a fourth state — which would qualify it for recognition as a national party.
While the AAP got only 1% of the vote in Himachal — where it virtually pulled out of the race midway through the campaign — its almost 13% vote in Gujarat is more than double what it required to be recognised as a state party there. That made it four states.
As of now, the ECI has recognised eight parties as national parties — the BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), CPI, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP), which was recognised in 2019. Once the official results of the Gujarat elections are announced, AAP will become the ninth party to be recognised as a national party.