Last week, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma tweeted that his party, the National People’s Party, has been recognised as a “national party”. The NPP is the eighth party to get that recognition — after Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress — and the first from the Northeast.
The Election Commission lists political parties as “national party”, “state party” or “registered (unrecognised) party”. The conditions for being listed as a national or a state party are specified under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. A party has to satisfy any one of a number of these conditions.
For recognition as a national party, the conditions specified under Paragraph 6B of the 1968 Order are:
(i) a 6% vote share in the last Assembly polls in each of any four states, as well as four seats in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
(ii) 2% of all Lok Sabha seats in the last such election, with MPs elected from at least three states; or
(iii) recognition as a state party in at least four states.
The NPP has satisfied the last of these conditions. It is recognised as a state party in four states — Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, besides Meghalaya. It has earned that recognition by fulfilling different conditions in different states.
For recognition as a state party, any one of five conditions needs to be satisfied. These are specified under paragraph 6A of the Order:
(i) two seats plus a 6% vote share in the last Assembly election in that state; or
(ii) one seat plus a 6% vote share in the last Lok Sabha election from that state; or
(iii) 3% of the total Assembly seats or 3 seats, whichever is more; or
(iv) one of every 25 Lok Sabha seats (or an equivalent fraction) from a state; or
(v) an 8% state-wide vote share in either the last Lok Sabha or the last Assembly polls.
In Meghalaya, the NPP easily satisfies all five conditions, with 19 Assembly seats out of 59 and a 20.60% vote share in 2018, followed by one of the state’s two Lok Sabha seats and a 22% vote share this year. In the other three states, it did not win a single Lok Sabha seat or get an 8% vote share in any, but earned recognition as a state party by virtue of its Assembly poll performances. In Manipur, it won four seats in 2017, which satisfied condition (iii) listed under Paragraph 6B. In Assembly elections to Nagaland last year and Arunachal this year, the NPP fulfilled the conditions (i) and (iii).
Once recognised as a national or a state party, a political party retains that status irrespective of its performance in the next elections. It loses the given status only if it fails to fulfil any of the conditions for two successive Assembly and two successive Lok Sabha elections.