NEW DELHI: As the nation inches towards the Lok Sabha polls, a string of political parties have begun sprouting from all corners of the country. Since April 2018, nearly 120 new political outfits have joined the list of over 2,000 unrecognised parties, and another 24 have applied for registration. Between July and December 2018, a total of 118 new political outfits signed up with the poll panel.
Though the number of such outfits is large, their voter-share or polling percentage is less than a per cent. Experts claim there are different reasons for the mushrooming of such parties. Former chief election commissioner S Y Qureshi explains, “People have political ambitions and it’s quite easy to register political parties. This is why so many such parties register.”
When asked whether such parties help in cutting into the votes of the Opposition, he said, “Earlier, there used to be a dummy candidate for this purpose. With the smaller and unrecognised parties, this has become legally valid and ethically wrong... These parties might also be used for money laundering as they are exempted from income tax.”
During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, 464 parties, including the six national and 39 state-level ones, contested. As many as 6,434 candidates from unrecognised parties contested, and only 98 managed to win. Altogether, these parties got just 0.28 per cent of the total number of electors and 0.45 per cent of valid votes polled.
Advocate Umesh Sharma, a legal expert, said most unrecognised parties have ulterior motives. “They have a different agenda. Some indulge in corrupt activities, as even if they don’t contest polls, they are free to collect donations and enjoy tax exemption.”
Sharma added that sometimes, bigger political parties use the infrastructure legally allotted to these smaller parties during campaigning and polling. “There is a limit on the use of vehicles and other logistics during poll time. In such cases, logistics issued in the name of smaller unrecognised parties are used by the big parties.”