Context: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Kamal Nath recently moved the SC against the decision of the Election Commission (EC) to remove his name from the list of ‘star campaigners’ for his party.

More on the news:

  • Recently, the ECI had found Mr. Nath guilty of violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in place for the byelections to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh. 
  • The EC had revoked his name on the basis of a complaint from the BJP that Mr. Nath derogatorily referred to one of the candidates.

Recognition of National and State Parties and their benefits

  • The Election Commission registers political parties for the purpose of elections and grants them recognition as national or state parties on the basis of their poll performance.
  • The other parties are simply declared as registered unrecognised parties.
  • The recognition granted by the Commission to the parties determines their right to certain privileges like allocation of the party symbols, provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations and access to electoral rolls.
  • Further, the recognized parties need only one proposer for filing the nomination. 
  • Star campaigners:
    • These recognised parties are allowed to have forty “star campaigners” during the time of elections and the registered–unrecognized parties are allowed to have twenty “star campaigners”.
    • Section 77(1) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 read with Guidelines for Star Campaigners issued by the Election Commission, from time to time, makes selection/revocation of ‘star campaigners’ the sole prerogative of the political party.
  • The travel expenses of these star campaigners are not included in the election expenditure of the candidates of their parties.
  • Every national party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use throughout the country.
  • Similarly, every state party is allotted a symbol exclusively reserved for its use in the state or states in which it is so recognised. A registered-unrecognised party, on the other hand, can select a symbol from a list of free symbols.
  • The national parties and state parties are also known as all-India parties and regional parties respectively.