After failing to make much impact in recent Assembly elections in various states, the Trinamool Congress suffered another setback as the Election Commission of India on April 10 withdrew the national party status of the West Bengal based party. There was a hint that the party might consider taking legal recourse in this matter. Senior Trinamool Congress leader and three-time Lok Sabha MP Saugata Roy, while claiming that the party leadership will take a final decision in this matter, said that the Election Commission’s decision will surely be opposed. According to him, previously, a number of decisions taken by the Election Commission have proved to be wrong and the Commission has also been censured by the Supreme Court a number of times.
Although the Trinamool Congress leadership has every right to challenge Election Commission’s decision in court, in all probability, that will not be an effective step since the Indian Constitution has given full liberty to the poll panel in such matters. While the Trinamool Congress might take to the legal path against the decision of the Election Commission of India, it is doubtful how far that step will be fruitful in the backdrop of some calculations based on which the party has received the setback. One important condition for retaining the national party status is that the political party concerned should have two per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats and that should be from three Indian states.
In case of Trinamool Congress, although it has more than two per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats, they are all from the single state of West Bengal. Another condition is that the party should have the state-party status in at least four Indian states. Now to get the state-party status, the political party concerned should have at least two elected representatives in the state Assembly concerned and six per cent of the votes polled in the last elections in that state. In case of Trinamool Congress, besides West Bengal, where it is the ruling party, it is only in Meghalaya where Trinamool has five elected legislators and secured 13.78 per cent of total votes polled in the last elections there.
The Trinamool Congress got the national party status in 2016, which was the year when it came to power in West Bengal for the second consecutive term. The party contested polls in Goa and Tripura but neither a single party candidate from any of these two states got elected nor it secured the required percentage of the votes polled. In the last Tripura Assembly polls, the vote percentage in favour of Trinamool Congress was 0.88 per cent which was even lesser than NOTA. In case of the 2022 Goa Assembly polls, the party vote share was 5.21 per cent of the total votes polled. With the latest decision by the Election Commission, the party will be able to contest with its registered party symbol only in West Bengal and Meghalaya where it still enjoys state-party status. In the case of other states, Trinamool Congress will have to remain satisfied with free symbols.
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