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AAP in striking distance of national party status

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-03-2017 Pretika Khanna

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may have suffered defeat in the just concluded state assembly elections, yet it is within striking distance of the elite club of national parties—with seven members currently.

A lot though hinges on the party’s performance in the Gujarat elections due later this year.

National party status could give a fillip to AAP’s pan-India expansion plans. Additionally, it also guarantees a uniform party symbol in future polls and dedicated slots on public broadcast platforms such as Doordarshan.

According to the norms laid down by the Election Commission, any party which polls 6% or more votes in four states—either in the Lok Sabha or state assembly elections—and in addition has four MPs elected to the Lok Sabha, qualifies to be a national party.

AAP, which contested assembly elections in the states of Goa and Punjab for the first time, managed to secure 20 seats in Punjab with a vote share of 23.7%. In Goa, while it failed to secure any seats, it managed to a vote share of 6.3%; this is despite the fact that 39 of its candidates lost their security deposits.

The party is in power in Delhi where it won 67 of the 70 seats with a vote share of 54.34%. In the 2014 general elections, AAP won four seats from the 400-plus constituencies it contested. The four Lok Sabha seats it bagged are all from Punjab. To be sure, the national party status is contingent on the party continuing to meet the stipulated conditions in subsequent elections.

“Although we didn’t expect the results, we are now the principal opposition party in Punjab with 22 seats (along with our allies). Also, having got 6% vote share in Goa, we are just one state away from becoming a national party,” AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a letter to volunteers after the recent assembly elections.

Leaders of the party insist that it is not the main focus of the party.

“It is not the biggest thing for the party. There are other tangible changes that need to be made first. We need to focus on the other challenges that face us. Getting national party status would also not change a lot,” said a senior party leader, on condition of anonymity.

The seven national parties at present are: Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party and Trinamool Congress.

AAP, which has its roots in the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, was formed in November 2012.

Analysts say that the party needs to work on local leadership instead of aiming for national party status.

“Getting national party status will not help the party. What AAP really needs is to work on its local leadership. Getting national party status will only help in boosting its morale,” said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.

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