FACED WITH the risk of losing their national party status, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Communist Party of India (CPI) have urged the Election Commission to put the review on hold till after the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, The Indian Express has learnt.
The poll panel had served showcause notices to Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, CPI and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on July 18 seeking explanation on why their national party status should not be withdrawn after their rout in the Lok Sabha elections. The parties had time till August 5 to respond.
According to the criteria set by the poll panel, a national party needs to get at least 6 per cent votes each from minimum four states, or get 2 per cent of the total seats in Lok Sabha from at least three states, or it should be recognised as a state party in at least four states. The NCP, TMC, and CPI no longer fulfill any of the above conditions.
In its response to EC’s notice, the TMC argued that it was awarded the national party tag only in 2016 and, hence, should be allowed to retain the same till Lok Sabha elections in 2024. After the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BSP, CPI and NCP stood to lose their national party status, but the EC at that time had agreed to take a lenient view and decided to review their status after two poll cycles. The TMC’s argument is in light of the EC’s decision to review status after two poll cycles instead of one.
The CPI, too, requested the poll panel to review its status till after 2024 and cited the party’s history to defend its national character. “We are one of the oldest political parties of this country and have even participated in the freedom struggle. We also continue to have a national presence. We have submitted this reply to EC and they will now consider it,” CPI general secretary D Raja told The Indian Express.
If they are derecognised, then the BJP, Congress, National People’s Party, CPM and BSP will be the only political parties that will continue to enjoy the national tag.
Under the Symbols Order 1968, a party, on losing the national status, does not have the right to fight elections using a common symbol across the country. In other words, if the decision is implemented, the analogue clock symbol will not be reserved for all NCP candidates across the country. It can use it only in states where it is recognised as a state party.