The 2014 Parliamentary elections will see the highest number of unrecognised parties in the fray in India’s electoral history.
The number of unrecognised parties has shown a five-fold increase from the 2009 figure, reaching a total of 1,593, according to data from the Election Commission of India.
Unrecognised parties, as the label indicates, are the ones that are registered but not recognised by the EC. To be recognised, a party needs to complete five years of registration. Alternately, it needs to win 4% of votes polled in a state or Parliamentary elections, whereupon it would be recognised as a state party.
The rise from 322 in 2009 to 1,593 is the largest growth spurt seen in registered parties since 1951.
In 1984, the number of unrecognised parties was just nine.
Data from the EC also shows a steady rise in independent candidates from the 1998 figures. In 1998, 1,915 independents had contested the elections. The number had risen to 3,831 by 2009, and this year, it is expected to be higher.
The number of independent candidates was at its highest in the 1996 elections — a whopping 10,636.
By means of comparison, the number of independent candidates during the 2010 General Election in the UK totalled 308, which equates to just 8% of the number of independents contesting the 2009 Parliamentary elections in India.
In contrast, the number of national parties in India has barely fluctuated, remaining just under double digits, whilst the number of state parties has been slowly rising. An increase of 20 this year brings the total number of state parties to 54.