Recent amendments to Election Symbols order might just save national recognition of some political parties

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Contrary to reports appearing in a section of the media that following the recent 2019 Lok Sabha elections some national level political parties will lose their status of recognized national political parties, might just not be totally true. Reports appearing in the section of the media also spoke of the possibility of some of these political parties losing claim over the reserved symbols allotted to them by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The argument was that since the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC for short), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India, Maxist (CPI-M) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) received less than the mandatory six percent votes of the total votes shared in the Lok Sabha elections and that they could also suffer a blow as the poll body could also take away their reserved election symbols allotted to them.

At present the TMC has a reserved symbol of Flowers and Grass, the BSP an Elephant, CPI – Ears of Corn and Sickle, CPI-M – Hammer, Sickle and a Star, Congress – Hand, BJP – Lotus and NCP a Clock.

A section of the media relied heavily on The Election Symbols (Reservation And Allotment) Order of 1968. The provision in clause 6C of the 1968 order read with clauses 6A and 6B was that for a nationally recognized political party in order to retain its national status had to secure six percent of the total votes polled and returned at least one member of parliament from that state and two Members to the Legislative Assembly of that state. Subsequently, this provision was amended to six percent of total votes in four or more states and four Members of Parliament and four MLAs to the Legislative Assembly of that State. What many in the media have overlooked is the fact that the said order has since then been amended in 1997, 2005 and 2017.

Taking note of the pleas made by some of the nationally recognized and registered political parties these sections were suitably amended in 2017. The amendment made was to the wording “State”. The new amendment reads thus “State or State’s”. Moreover, another amendment to the order is that the review of the political parties national status will instead of being done after every five years, will now be done after every 10 years. Thus providing a major relief to the existing seven nationally recognized, registered political parties namely – TMC, BSP, BJP, CPI, CPI-M, Congress and the NCP.

According to an official from the ECI speaking on conditions of anonymity to Rajkaran.com it all depends upon how the poll body views it based on the recent amendments to the 1968 order. He however, added that notwithstanding the less than six percent vote share some of these political parties have polled in the recent 2019 Lok Sabha polls, they will not lose their claim over their reserved election symbols.

In the recent 2019 Lok Sabha elections the TMC won 22 seats, the BSP won 10 seats, CPI 2 seats, CPI-M 3 seats, Congress 52 seats, the BJP 303 seats and the NCP won 5 seats. In terms of the vote share polled and vote count these seven nationally recognized, registered political parties polled thus – TMC 0.83 percent and 0.8 percent, BJP – 45.30 percent and 45.3 percent, BSP – 1.20 percent and 1.2 percent, Congress – 45.98 percent and 46 percent.

While the rest of the nationally recognized, registered political parties namely – CPI, CPI-M and NCP have been clubbed together in the “Others” category and who have polled a combined vote share of 4.65 percent and vote count of 4.6 percent. The ECI has not given the individual vote share and vote count in percentage terms as yet. Leaving some doubt over whether these political parties will be able to retain their national status and their allotted reserved election symbols. The only two nationally recognized, registered political parties that appear to be under the cloud are the CPI and CPI-M as per the norms set by the Symbols Order set by the ECI.

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