After winning two consecutive Assembly polls in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee on Friday added yet another feather to her cap with her Trinamool Congress being extended the ‘national party’ status by the Election Commission.
Sources in the poll panel, quoting an order, said Trinamool Congress has satisfied one of the conditions mentioned in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to be recognised as a national party — having being recognised as a state party in at least four states.
It is a recognised state party in West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
Now, India has seven recognised national parties — Congress, BJP, BSP, CPI, CPI-M, NCP and All India Trinamool Congress.
Recognition 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.
Besides, these parties get land or buildings from the government to set up their party offices. They can have up to 40 ‘star campaigners’ during electioneering. Others can have up to 20 ‘star campaigners’.
A political party becomes eligible to be recognised as a national party if it has won 2 per cent of seats in Lok Sabha from at least three different states in the latest general election; or in a Lok Sabha or Assembly election it has polled 6 per cent of the total valid votes in at least four states, in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats; or it has been recognised as a state party in at least four states.
The poll panel had on August 22 amended a rule whereby it will now review the national and state party status of political parties every 10 years instead of the five.
Had the rule not been amended, Trinamool Congress would not have been recognised as a national party as it had not performed well in the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly polls and would have lost the state party status there.
The amendment in the rule had also come as a major reprieve for BSP, NCP and CPI as they were facing the prospect of losing their national party status after their dismal performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The EC had served them notices in 2014 on the issue.