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Explained: Is AAP on its way to becoming a national party? Not yet

With the stage set for the AAP to form a government in another state — the only regional party to be in power in two states — and its footprint, and ambition, growing, questions are now being raised about whether AAP can claim to be a national party?

AAPAAP supporters celebrate the party's performance in the Punjab Assembly elections, on Thursday. (Express Photo: Jaipal Singh)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is the only big winner apart from the BJP this election, with the party, going by trends, set to form the government in Punjab with a lead in 91 seats and opening its account in Goa with two seats and a vote share of 6%. In January this year, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal announced that the party would contest the upcoming Assembly polls in six states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat in 2022. With the stage set for the AAP to form a government in another state – the only regional party to be in power in two states – and its footprint, and ambition, growing, questions are now being raised about whether AAP can claim to be a national party?

The answer to that is: not yet. But the state party is well on its way to becoming a national party in the coming years if it meets Election Commission’s criteria.

How is a party recognised as a national party?

For a party to be recognised as a ‘national party’ it needs to meet one of the three criteria – and the AAP doesn’t meet any of these:

* It needs to win at least two per cent of the total seats in the Lok Sabha (11 seats) from at least three different states. At present, the AAP has just 1 seat in the Lok Sabha; that of Bhagwant Mann’s.

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* Get at least six per cent votes in four states in addition to four Lok Sabha seats. It currently has only 6.7% voteshare in Goa as per the EC’s trends thus far, and 3.3% in Uttarakhand. In the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections it got 53.6% vote share.

* Be recognised as a ‘state party’ in four or more states. The party only has recognition in Goa, Delhi and Punjab. For any party to be recognised as a state party, it must secure six per cent of the votes during the Assembly elections and two Assembly seats; or six per cent of votes in the Lok Sabha from the state and an MP from the state; or three per cent of total Assembly seats or three seats (whichever is greater); or one MP from every 25 Lok Sabha seats or eight per cent of total votes in the state during the Lok Sabha election from the state or the Assembly polls.

Which are the national parties in India?

At present, there are a total of eight recognised national parties in India — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and National People’s Party (NPP).

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In 2016, after winning two consecutive Assembly polls in West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress got upgraded by the Election Commission to national party status. It is now a recognised State party in West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

The perks of being a national party

Getting recognised as a national or a state party ensures that the election symbol of that party is not used by any other political entity in polls across India. Other registered but unrecognised political parties have to choose from a pool of “free symbols” announced by the commission from time to time. For example, the BJP’s lotus or the Congress’s hand is out of bounds for other parties. Recognised national parties also get land/buildings from the government to set up their party offices. They can also have up to 40 ‘star campaigners’ during electioneering; others can have up to 20 ‘star campaigners’.

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First published on: 10-03-2022 at 05:24:55 pm
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