Thursday, May 30, 2024

Who could stand up to BJP in foreseeable future?

Hidden in plain sight is the news that Trinamool Congress (TMC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Communist Party of India (CPI) could soon lose the tag of being a national political party in India.

All three don’t fulfill the criteria of Election Commission (EC) which stipulates that either (a) a party ought to have got 6 per cent votes each from a minimum of four states; (b) Get 2 per cent of the total seats in Lok Sabha from at least three states; or (c) It should be recognized as a state party in at least four states.

The axe could’ve fallen in 2014 itself before rules were tweaked and performance in two, and not one Lok Sabha elections, were deemed the new normal. Now 10 years hence, all three stare the exit from the roster.

One party with a similar worry, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), however, has saved itself from a similar ignominy as it has sent 10 representatives to the 17th Lok Sabha from the 2019 Polls. BSP also marked its presence in several other states.

If these three parties are show the door, only five other parties would enjoy the status of being a national party: BJP, Congress, CPI-M, BSP and National People’s Party, a recognized state party in Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Among the biggest perk lost would be the luxury of having an election symbol which is consistent across the country. Once you stop being a national party, your party symbol could also be one of any other party of the country.  You are also denied free slots for publicity on national broadcasting platforms, such as Doordarshan and All-India Radio. You don’t get a land or a building from the government to set up your party office. Further, national parties can have 40 star campaigners whereas for others the number is reduced to half.

Besides the national parties, there are 59 state parties and 329 regional parties in India. As many as 2293 have registered themselves as political party but their status is not recognized by the Election Commission.  

It is generally believed that political parties are set up to convert “black” into “white” money in Indian context.

If push comes to shove and TMC, NCP and CPI are derecognized by the EC, those leaders with ambitions of heading the centre would receive a severe jolt. Mamata Banerjee (TMC) and Sharad Pawar (NCP) have long entertained the idea of being India’s next Prime Minister though Doraiswamy Raja, the known face of CPI, is farthest from being a bidder for the post.

Most interesting would be the role of Lutyens Media who have all along projected Mamata or Pawar as leaders of national stature. Would they still continue to hog the limelight, the front pages of our newspapers, when officially they are off the radar of national pre-eminence? And with Rahul Gandhi out of fray, who could stand up to the juggernaut of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party, BJP, in foreseeable future?

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