The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 5 seats in the Gujarat Assembly election and its vote share was almost 13%. This meant it was set to be recognised as a national party by the Election Commission of India.


What is a ‘National Party’?

  • The name suggests that a national party would be one that has a presence nationally’, as opposed to a regional party whose presence is restricted to only a particular state or region.
  • National parties are usually India’s bigger parties, such as the Congress and BJP.
  • However, some smaller parties, like the communist parties, are also recognised as national parties.
  • A certain stature is sometimes associated with being a national party, but this does not necessarily translate into having a lot of national political clout.
  • On the other hand, some parties, despite being dominant in a major state and having a major say in national affairs, remain regional parties.
    • Eg., DMK in Tamil Nadu, BJD in Odisha, YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh, RJD in Bihar, or TRS in Telangana.


Criteria for National Party/State Party

  • The ECI has laid down the technical criterion for a party to be recognised as a national party.
  • A party may gain or lose national party status from time to time, depending on the fulfilment of these laid-down conditions.
  • As per the ECI’s Political Parties and Election Symbols, 2019 handbook, a political party would be considered a national party if:
    • it is recognised as state party 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.
  • To be recognised as a state party, a party needs any one of following conditions:
    • 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
    • at least 8% of the total valid votes in the last Assembly election or Lok Sabha election from the state.


Benefits for a ‘National Party’

  • Certain practical benefits flow from being recognised as a national party. These are —
      • Their election symbols are reserved for use by their candidates across the country;
      • They are eligible to get land in Delhi to build a party office;
      • They can have up to 40 star campaigners instead of the 20 that registered but not recognised parties are allowed.
        • A star campaigner is a popular vote seeker in an election for a party.
        • There is no law defining the star campaigner
        • They are nominated by the respective political parties and they follow guidelines issued by ECI under the Model Code of Conduct.
        • The expenditure on campaign and travel of star campaigners is not added to the candidate’s spending limit.