The Trinamul Congress’s de-recognition as a national party by the Election Commission of India does not really matter as nothing of consequence changes for Mamata Banerjee’s party, said multiple sources.
Even as Trinamul’s Dum Dum MP Saugata Roy declared the party’s intent to move court against the derecognition, sources in his parliamentary party played down the significance of the ECI’s decision.
“First of all, moving court might not yield much because the ECI’s procedure is foolproof, prima facie. We could question the alacrity and allege political motivation, but there is not much wrong legally with the decision,” said a Trinamul source.
“But more importantly, how does it even matter?” he asked. “We remain the third-largest party in Parliament (both Houses taken together), which is all that really counts, nationally.”
Under the current rules, Trinamul could hypothetically gain the requisite number of votes or seats in subsequent Assembly elections or next year’s general election to re-qualify as a national party.
Trinamul qualified as a state party in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in addition to its base of Bengal, before 2014. It was only two years later that it became a national party. The trajectory of younger parties like Trinamul and the AAP show that they can perform well outside the core bases even without a national tag.
A Trinamul functionary pointed out that the party still operates out of Rajya Sabha member M. Nadimul Haque’s South Avenue residence in Delhi. The Union government’s 2006 policy allots land to national parties, and others with at least seven MPs, at a nominal rent. The party had been allotted land on Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg in 2013, which it has not been able to take possession of on account of encroachment. Change in the EC’s categorisation has no bearing on the allotment.
Under the various laws that govern polls in India, here’s how Trinamul might be affected by being downgraded.
■ The party can’t automatically use its symbol in any election outside Bengal, Tripura, and Meghalaya, where it is a state party. It needs to specifically apply to the ECI after each election is notified.
■ Outside the three states, it can’t get two complimentary copies of the electoral rolls before polls. The price it has to pay is small change. It’s the sense of entitlement that local cadres, perhaps, feel while receiving the rolls without having to run around for it.
■ National parties can field up to 40 star campaigners in elections across India. The expenses of star campaigners are added to the party’s account, rather than the candidate’s. Candidates have an expenditure limit, parties don’t. Outside those three states, Trinamul can only field up to 20 star campaigners.
■ Recognised parties need just one proposer to file a nomination. Others need 10.
■ On an EVM, the names of candidates of nationaland state parties appearabove other candidates. So, in Delhi, for example, a Trinamul candidate’s name will now appear below those from the Congress, the BJP, the AAP, the CPM, the NPP, and the BSP.
■ The loss of face, if any, is in day-to-day governance. Till Monday, a Trinamul district office-bearer (whose designation has been informed to authorities) would be invited for a consultation with parties by a district magistrate. Now, this will hold true only in the three states.