As we know that Bihar Assembly Elections are upcoming and voters expect to see several myriads of symbols apart from lotus, arrow, the hand, hurricane lantern and other symbols like chapati roller, dolli, bangles, capsicum on the ballots.
Why are election symbols required?
Nearly 60 different parties are contesting for the Bihar election and the symbols help unrecognised parties and independent candidates to differentiate themselves from one another. It also helps voters to identify the party of their choice.
Significance of Election symbols
India is a vast and diverse nation, where various small political parties try their luck in elections. Symbols play a crucial role in campaigning as it acts as a tool that connects the voters. Since India held its first electoral polls in 1951-1952, symbols play an important role in the electoral process. Nearly 85% of the electorate were illiterate at that point, visual symbols were allotted to the parties and candidates to help them in identifying the party of their choice.
In Bihar Assembly Election, the Bharatiya Aam Awam Party which is a registered unrecognised political party contesting in all the 243 seats and has been allocated “capsicum” as its symbol.
Similarly, symbols of “pestle and mortal” has been allotted unrecognised Hindu Samaj Party. On the other hand, Aam Adhikar Morcha and Rashtriya Jan Vikas Party will fight on “chapati roller” and “baby walker” symbols respectively.
Election Commission last year disallowed Shiv Sena for using its “bow and arrow” for the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar are now citing its similarity with the symbol of JD(U) and has been allotted the “trumphet” symbol. Jan Adhikar Party Loktantrik of Pappu Yadav has been issued symbol as “scissors” this time. In 2015 polls, it’s symbols was “hockey stick and ball”.
Various types of symbols are:
According to the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) order, 2017 symbols of the party can be ‘reserved’ or ‘free’.
Reserve symbols: In a particular state contest elections, if a party is recognised in another state, it can reserve the symbol being used it and is provided that the symbol is not being used or bears resemblance to that of any other party. Presently, national parties are 8 and 64 state parties are across the country have reserved symbols.
Free symbols: Nearly a pool of 200 ‘free’ symbols are allotted by the Election Commission to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.
In India nearly there are 2,538 unrecognised parties in India according to the Election Commission.
Procedure for the allotment of Symbols to the Political parties
The order was first promulgated in 1968 which mandates the Election Commission to provide for “specification, reservation, choice and allotment of symbols at parliamentary and assembly elections for the recognition of political parties”
As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:
- A list of three symbols has to be provided by the party/candidate from the Election Commission’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.
- Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party or candidate on a first-come-first-serve-basis.
- When a recognised political party splits, the decision is taken by the Election Commission on assigning the symbol.
What are the powers of Election Commission?
The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the Election Commission to recognise political parties and allot symbols.
– It can decide on disputes among the rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol, under Paragraph 15 of the Order.
– To decide issues on a dispute or a merger, the Election Commission is the only authority that took the decision. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.
Therefore, Election Symbols are the crucial tool that connects with the voters. It is also a crucial part of the electoral process. Also, visual symbols are allotted to the political parties and candidates to help voters mainly illiterate voters to identify the party of their choice.