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Allotment of Symbols to Political Parties

Allotment of Symbols to Political Parties


The upcoming Bihar assembly elections are being pitted as a contest between the lotus, arrow, hand, and hurricane lantern but the voters can also expect to see a myriad of other symbols like chapatti roller, dolli, bangles, capsicum on the ballots as they go out to vote.

Types of Symbols:

  • As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either “reserved” or “free”.
  • The eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols whereas the Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognized regional parties that pop up before elections.
  • If a party recognized in a particular state contest in elections in another state, it can “reserve” the symbol being used by it, provided the symbol is not being used or bears resemblance to that of any other party.

Procedure for allotment of symbols:

  • The order, first promulgated in 1968, 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.
  • The party or a candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers in order to get a symbol allotted.
  • When a recognized political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

Significance of symbols in elections:

  • The symbols are crucial campaigning tools to connect with the voters in a vast and diverse country like India, where several nondescript and small political parties try out their luck in state elections.
  • The symbols have become a crucial part of the electoral process ever since India held its first national polls in 1951-52.
  • Nearly 85 % of the electorates were illiterate at that point and the visual symbols were allotted to parties and candidates to help them identify the party of their choice.
  • The Election Symbols Order also provided for resolution of disputes in cases involving splits in recognized parties or merger of two or more political parties.

Source: The Indian Express