CPI may lose national party status

The Communist Party of India (CPI), the country's second oldest party founded in 1925, is facing the risk of losing its status as a
national party after its disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

The CPI, which contested in 57 seats in 23 states in the general elections, won only two seats and the tally may not go up to five when the full results are out. The party lost all three seats in Kerala where it had won last time.

The party had won 10 of the 34 seats it contested in 2004 with a vote share of 1.4 per cent.

According to the criteria set by the Election Commission, a 'national party' needs to contest from four states and get at least six per cent votes from at least four states or get two per cent of total seats in the Lok Sabha from at least three states or it should be a party recognised as a state party in at least four states.

"We are expected to retain our state party status in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Manipur and Jharkhand," CPI national executive Pannian Raveendran told reporters.

But he said he would be able to say anything further on the matter only after assessing the party's performance in these states.

The CPI has state party status in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu on the basis of its representation in parliament, while in Kerala and Manipur the party is recognised on the basis of its presence in the assembly.

The Election Commission had issued notice to CPI in 2004 to explain why its recognition should not be withdrawn. But the commission modified its guidelines in 2005 giving the national status to a party recognised as a state party in a minimum of four states.

With this relaxation, the CPI hopes its national status will continue.

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