Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party or AAP, an offshoot of the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement in 2012, has been elevated to national party status, while All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the old Communist Party of India (CPI) have been downgraded to regional party status. AAP is currently in power in two states – Delhi and Punjab.
The Election Commission said AAP has been deemed a national party based on its electoral performance in four states – Delhi, Goa, Punjab and Gujarat.
Party boss Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, termed the development a “huge responsibility” and called it “nothing less than a miracle” that AAP had achieved national party status in record time.
For a political party to be labelled a national party, it has to be a recognised state party in four or more states (or) must have 2% seats in Lok Sabha, according to the rules.
In India’s multi-party system, there are six national parties after today’s restructuring – the Congress, BJP, CPI (M), Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, the National People’s Party (NPP) and the latest entrant, AAP.
Acting under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which stipulates the criteria for recognition as a national or state party, the EC’s order said AAP had fulfilled the requirement of being a recognised state party in four or more states.
TMC: The EC said the TMC had ceased to be a state party in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, though it continued to be a state party in West Bengal and Tripura, and was accorded state party status in Meghalaya on the basis of the 2023 elections.
In its review, the EC found the TMC did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, and got 0.40% and 43.28% of the votes in Tripura and West Bengal respectively. In the Assembly polls from 2016 to 2018, the party’s vote share was 44.91% in West Bengal, 1.41% in Manipur, and 0.30% in Tripura. In the most recent polls, the party got 48.02% of the votes in West Bengal (2021), and did not contest in Manipur (2022).
NCP: The NCP lost its state party status in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya as its vote share was 2.28%, 0.95% and 1.61% respectively, in the Assembly elections between 2017 and 2018. It remains a state party in Maharashtra, where it polled 16.71% of the votes in the 2019 Assembly elections. The party was also given state party status in Nagaland on the basis of the Assembly elections earlier this year.
CPI: In the case of the CPI, the EC withdrew its status as a state party in West Bengal and Odisha, while it remains a state party in Kerala, Manipur and Tamil Nadu. In the Assembly elections held from 2016 to 2019, the party’s vote share was 0.79% in Tamil Nadu (but it has two MPs from the state), 1.45% in West Bengal, 0.74% in Manipur (but its vote share in the state was 8.27% in the 2019 Lok Sabha election), and 0.12% in Odisha.