After a halt due to the Covid pandemic, the Election Commission has restarted the process of reviewing the recognised status of political parties based on their performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and has given individual hearings to Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and the CPI, two of the eight recognised national parties.
Sources in the Election Commission said Trinamool Congress was also called. Asked whether he had represented his party before the panel on Thursday, Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekar Ray replied in the negative.
The commission has also heard six recognised state parties based on paras 6A, B and C of the Election Symbol (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. The paragraphs deal with criteria for parties to get national or state party status.
After the 2019 parliamentary polls, the commission had issued notices to Trinamool, CPI and NCP, asking why their status should not be downgraded based on the outcome of the general election. However, the process could not move forward due to the pandemic.
In November last year, the poll panel revived the process. On Tuesday, it heard the response of the Nationalist Congress Party and the CPI.
"It is a routine exercise. We gave a written representation to EC explaining that we are the oldest political party and have been taking part in parliamentary democracy, formed government on its own in Kerala and have been part of many coalition governments," CPI general secretary D Raja said.
An NCP representative had submitted details to EC officials. A senior party leader described the notice as a "routine matter".
"It is an ongoing process which is carried out after every election. Things might have changed for some parties after the recent assembly polls in three states. After Karnataka polls, things could change for other parties," explained a party leader.
Earlier, the Election Commission heard six state parties to seek their views on the notices. These are Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Mizoram Peoples Conference, Rashtriya Lok Dal, People's Democratic Alliance, Pattali Makkal Katchi and Revolutionary Socialist Party.
A recognised national party can contest on all Lok Sabha and assembly seats on its symbol. It also gets to field more star campaigners for electioneering.
BJP, BSP, CPI, CPI-M, Congress, Trinamool, NCP and National People's Party are the eight recognised national parties. There are over 50 recognised state parties.