The Election Commission met representatives of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India on Monday hearing their arguments on why their status as national parties should not be revoked. All the three parties have argued that they should not be de-recognised only on the basis of the recent electoral performances.

The Commission said the hearing was only a partial one and the parties will be called back again for deliberations.

The Trinamool Congress, which was the first to meet the EC officials said that it had got national status only in 2016. “As per the current rules performance in two consecutive general elections are to be counted. The EC sent us a notice based on 2014 and 2019 results. But we got the national status only in 2016 so how can they count 2014 elections? I just put these facts in front of them,” TMC’s Lok Sabha MP Kalyan Banerjee told The Hindu.

The NCP asked the Election Commission to wait till the Assembly polls to be held in Maharashtra in October before passing any order in this connection. “This is a time of flux. If NCP could not perform well in 2014 in Maharashtra doesn’t mean that the NCP can’t bounce back in 2019. In all fairness, we should be allowed to test our strength in the upcoming Assembly elections and then they can decide on the issue,” NCP’s Majeed Memon said. Mr Memon said the EC had agreed to maintain status quo. The NCP was recognised as national party in 1999, the year of its birth when the Sharad Pawar-led faction split from the Congress.

“For 15 years we were accepted by people of Maharashtra, the second largest State of India. We can’t be condemned for having a gap of five years,” Mr Memon added. It would be against the principles of equity, fair play and justice if the NCP was to de-recognised with just one failure, he said.

The Communist Party of India meanwhile argued that political history should also be taken into account before taking any decision. “We are one of the oldest political party in the country having unchanged oldest symbol,” party general secretary D. Raja said.

“We have a pan India presence and have been part of many State governments. We fought for Independence of the country and in first election we were the principle opposition party. We may have set back in recent elections it doesn’t mean that we can’t make a come back,” he added.

The EC, citing results of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had in July issued show-cause notices to the All-India Trinamool Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Communist Party of India asking why their status as national parties should not be revoked. The parties had been given till August 5 to respond, an ECI official said.

Under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 2017, a party is given the status of a national party if its candidates secure at least 6% of the votes polled in four states or more and if it has at least four MPs in the Lok Sabha.