According to the Commission, as on July 24, there are 1,866 political parties which are registered with it. Out of these, 56 are recognised as registered national or state parties, while the rest are “unrecognised, registered” parties.

According to data complied by the Commission, in the last Lok Sabha election in 2014, 464 political parties had fielded candidates. The data complied by the poll panel was shared with the Law Ministry for use in Parliament. Legislative Department of the ministry is the administrative unit for the poll watchdog.

According to the Election Commission, there were a total of 1,593 such parties in the country till March 10, 2014. 24 more such parties were registered between March 11 and March 21. And by March 26, 10 more outfits had registered as political parties. This was days after the Lok Sabha polls were announced on March 5.

The total number of political parties registered with the EC in March last year stood at 1,627. Between March 2014 and July this year, 239 parties registered themselves with the Commission.

These registered but unrecognised political parties do not have the privilege of contesting elections on a symbol of their own. They have to choose from a list of ‘free symbols’ issued by the poll panel. According to a latest EC circular, 84 such free symbols are available.

Air conditioner, almirah, balloon, chappals, coconut, window, carpet, bottle and bread were some of the ‘free’ symbols available for registered, unrecognised political parties. The Election Commission had come out with a list of 84 ’free’ symbols in January this year available with it to be used by registered political parties which are unrecognised.

To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to fulfil certain criteria.

The criteria for recognition include conducting activities as a political party for a continuous period of
five years, or getting at least 4 per cent of the votes polled in elections to the state legislative Assembly or the Lok Sabha in a particular state. But while calculating the votes polled, seats where candidates of such parties have forfeited their deposit are not included.

Election Commission rules say that if a candidate fails to get a minimum of one-sixth of the total valid votes polled, the deposit goes to the treasury. As of now, six parties - BJP, BSP, Congress, CPI, CPI (M) and NCP - are recognised as 'national parties'. Besides, there are 50 'recognised state parties'.

The Law Commission in its 255th report submitted to the Law Ministry in March this year had recommended deregistration of a political party for its failure to contest parliamentary or state elections for 10 consecutive years.

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