The Election Commission of India’s latest data on political parties, registered till March 9, reveal that the country is having a total of 2,293 political parties. They include seven “recognised national” and 59 “recognised state” parties.
In fact, 149 political parties were registered with the poll panel between February and March on the eve of the announcement of the poll schedule.
These registered but unrecognised political parties do not have the privilege of contesting elections on a fixed symbol of their own. They have to choose from a list of ‘free symbols’ issued by the poll panel.
To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to secure certain minimum percentage of polled valid votes or certain number of seats in the state legislative assembly or the Lok Sabha during the last election.
There have been fears that most of such registered but unrecognised political parties are used to ‘round trip’ the black money into white by misusing the provisions for financial contributions to political parties.
Thus the Election Commission had in 2016 asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes to look into the finances of 255 registered but unrecognised political parties it had “unlisted” that year for not contesting polls in the last one decade between 2005 and 2015.
While the poll watchdog has the mandate to register a political party, the electoral laws denies it the power to deregister any party.
Thus, the Commission had used its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to “unlist” parties for being dormant and not contesting elections for a long time.