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National Party

Context: The Election Commission of India has recognised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a national party.

About National Party

  • ECI registers various political outfits and recognizes them as national and state or regional parties on the basis of their performance in the elections.
  • It reviews the poll performance of recognized parties after every State Assembly election or general election to the Lok Sabha.
  • The rules for recognition as a national party are specified by the Commission in para 6B of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

Eligibility for National Party

  • As per the Election Commission’s Political Parties and Election Symbols 2019 handbook, a political party would be considered a national party:
    • If it is recognised in four or more states; or
    • 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
    • If it has won at least 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha from not less than three states.

 Eligibility for State Party

  • To be recognised as a state party, a party needs
    • 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
    • At least 3% of the total number of seats or three seats, whichever is more, in the last Assembly elections; or
    • At least one MP for every 25 members or any fraction allotted to the state in the Lok Sabha; or
    • Have at least 8% of the total valid votes in the last Assembly election or Lok Sabha election from the state.

Advantages of becoming a National Party

  • Right to use a reserved symbol: A national party is given the right to use a reserved symbol for all elections held throughout the country. This symbol is exclusive to the party and cannot be used by any other party.
  • National Presence: A national party can contest elections across the country and can field candidates in any state, which helps in expanding its base and influence.
  • More ‘Star Campaigners’: A national party can engage 40 ‘star campaigners’ as opposed to 20 such campaigners allotted to a registered unrecognised party. Star campaigners’ expenses are not added to the party’s overall costs of running an election campaign.
  • Government Land Allocation: A party with the ‘national’ status gets land from the government to build its headquarters.
  • Single Proposer: National parties need to have just one proposer to submit a nomination. They are given two free sets of electoral rolls during the roll revision. They also get one free electoral roll for each candidate during general elections.
  • Free airtime on public broadcasters: National parties also get free airtime on public broadcasters such as Doordarshan and the All India Radio during the general elections to address the masses and convey their message.

Effects of Losing National Party Status

  • Election symbol will no longer be visible on the first few names in EVM or ballot paper as national party names feature first in EVM or voter list.
  • Party will not get assured calls for meetings whenever EC call an all-party meet.
  • Political funding might get affected.
  • The number of star campaigners will be reduced from 40 to 20 during elections.
  • The party may not be given free airtime on Doordarshan and All India Radio to connect with the masses.
  • The party will have to use a separate symbol to contest elections in states.

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