New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday suspended the recognition of former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP) because it failed to submit its poll expenditure statement within the legally specified time frame of 90 days since the general election last year.

The EC order, in line with a Supreme Court order, is particularly significant given the growing debate around financial transparency in elections.

“Exercising power under para 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, the Election Commission of India has suspended the recognition of the National People’s Party, a recognized state party in Meghalaya, due to its failure in filing the election expenditure statement of the party," EC said in a release.

After the election last year, EC told all political parties to file expenditure statements by 26 August. The NPP is the only one that has still not submitted it. EC issued a show-cause notice to the NPP on 17 March asking why action should not be taken against it for failing to follow instructions. The NPP asked for time till 15 April, and then sought an extension till 15 May but still did not file the statement.

A senior EC official said the NPP can now submit its expenditure statement and re-apply for recognition. The party says it did not make any direct expenditure in the election. “As a political party, we did not spend anything on the campaign and it was our individual candidates who spent the money. We will send our statements soon and if EC says that we need to re-apply for a recognition, we will do that too," said NPP national secretary Alok Goyal.

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