Registered unrecognised political parties constitute 97% of the total political parties.

In India, the number of political parties is growing every year, with the last decade witnessing a two-fold rise in the number of registrations of parties with the Election Commission of India (ECI). However, most of these parties do not contest elections.
Between 2010 and 2021, the number of registered political parties has risen by more than 100%. In 2010, the number of registered parties was 1,141, which increased to 2,829 in 2021. But most of these registered political parties are unrecognised registered political parties.
According to ECI data, registered unrecognised political parties constitute around 97% of the political parties in India. Out of the total 2,829 registered parties, 2,796 are registered unrecognised political parties, as of September 2021. Eight parties are registered as national parties, while 45 are state parties.
Any outfit which wishes to contest elections or form a political outfit must get themselves registered with the ECI under Section 29A of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and is henceforth allotted symbols by the ECI as their electoral symbol. Every party registered is categorised as registered unrecognised party and for such party to become a state or national party, it has to fulfil certain criteria including securing a certain number of seats in any Assembly or General election and a certain amount of voting percentage in such these elections.
However, most of these registered political parties do not contest elections and according to official sources and political activists, many individuals who float these political outfits, keep them “dormant” and often use these as fronts for money laundering and collecting donations with tax exemptions.
“The process of registering a political party is easy. Often political parties are kept out of the purview of scrutiny. Parties often fail to comply with the rules of the ECI on transparency and therefore these parties are used by individuals for money laundering and collecting donations from different people and places and exempting that money from income tax scrutiny,” a source who was earlier with the ECI told this correspondent.
This official added that many larger parties and even national and state parties use these smaller political outfits for tweaking ECI guidelines during elections, which restrict a political party from using more than a certain amount of money for campaigning, cars, cash, etc.
According to ECI data, the registration of political parties increases right before the General Elections. Analysis of the data on from 2009 General Elections to the 2019 General Elections shows that there has been a trend of 60% increase in the number of political parties in India during each of these elections. During the 2009 General Elections there were about 1,000 registered parties (including unrecognised parties) which increased to 1,643 in the 2014 General Elections and then to 2,310 in 2019. More than 300 political parties were registered between 2013 and May 2014 (General Elections 2014). Similarly, around 300 more such political outfits registered themselves before the 2019 General Elections.
The Sunday Guardian also took a closer look at the number of unrecognised parties in the five poll bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab and according to ECI data and data compiled by Association of Democratic Reforms (NGO working as a national election watchdog) there are a total of 889 unrecognised political parties in these five states, of which 767 are from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. However, in Uttar Pradesh only 104 of these parties have submitted the mandatory audit report of their financials to the ECI as of November 2021. These 104 parties have said that they have not contested any elections. Some of these unrecognised political parties have names such as, Akhil Bhartiya Nagrik Sewa Sangh, Jan Raajya Party, Desh Seva Party, Bharatiya Nav Kranti Party, Bahujan Bal Party, Bhartiya Drishtigochar Party, Samoohik Ekta Party, amongst several others.
Punjab has 66 unrecognised parties out of which around 15 have not contested elections. While Uttarakhand has 37, Goa 10, and Manipur 9. However, details of such parties and their financials are not available on the ECI website until the time of going to press.