Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati‘s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is facing the prospect of losing its national party status following its poor performance in the recently held Lok Sabha Elections 2024. The party failed to win any seats in the elections, and its vote share came down to about 2.04 per cent.

The BSP is the only national-level Dalit party in the country. It could lose its national party status once the Election Commission of India carries out its review.

Six National Political Parties

Currently, the Election Commission recognises six political parties as national parties: the BJP, the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, the National People’s Party, the CPM and the BSP.

Kanshi Ram founded the BSP in April 1984 and later named Mayawati his successor. The BSP was recognised as a national party in 1997. However, the party saw a decline in its electoral performance after the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

According to the rules in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, a party gets national status if it polled at least 6 per cent of the total valid votes in four or more states in the last general election and has at least four MPs.

A party can also get a national status if it wins at least 2 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha and the winners are from at least three states. The third condition for attaining a national party status is that it has to be a recognised state party in at least four states.

Declining Performance

The BSP couldn’t win any seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, but it won ten seats in the 2019 general election. According to the poll panel website, the party’s vote share decreased to 2.04 per cent.

The party fielded candidates in 424 Lok Sabha seats, including 80 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. In 2019, the BSP’s vote share was 3.67 per cent. In 2009, the BSP won 21 seats with a vote share of 6.17 per cent. In 2014, it did not win any seats and polled 4.19 per cent of the votes.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the BSP doesn’t fulfil the first two criteria for retaining its national party status. For the third criterion, the party has to meet the conditions for being a recognised state party in four or more states, which it also does not meet.

The Indian Express report said the poll panel is expected to start the review process after the statistical reports of the 2024 elections are published.

Not the first time

Earlier, too, the BSP’s national party status was at risk. In 2014, it almost lost its national party status. An amendment in the rules by the poll panel saved it. From a review every five years, the new rules made a review once in ten years.

A national party avails many benefits. Apart from a common election symbol, a national party also gets accommodation for an office in Delhi, free copies of the electoral roll and airtime on Doordarshan and All-India Radio during elections, among other benefits.