Samajwadi Party’s internal wrangling over its symbol-- the bicycle—has fuelled speculation about what could be the possible logo of the factions led by Mulayam Singh and his son Akhilesh in the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
They could be looking at an array of free symbols such as “mortar and pestle”, “wool and needles”, or “dumbbells”, which are up for grabs, to make their pick.
The Election Commission is expected to give a verdict on Monday on whom among the father and son duo will get to ride on the bicycle in the February-March elections.
In the event of a spilt in the SP and the EC not being able to take a call on who has the legislative majority needed to wrest the symbol, the bicycle could be frozen and both sides be asked to pick a new name and symbol in the interim.
Some claim that Akhilesh-loyalist Ram Gopal Yadav has asked the poll panel to allocate them ‘motorcycle.’ Mulayam Singh Yadav had also made a reference to it as a possible symbol for his faction at a recent media interaction.
But the EC’s list of free symbols does not have the option of a motorcycle and so it is unlikely that any of the factions would get it. It does, however, have a ‘bicycle pump’, which comes closest to the existing symbol.
Alternately, the factions could tie up with other political outfits to borrow their existing symbols. They will then have to inform the EC about the decision.
For instance, Mulayam could take up the Lok Dal offer of using its symbol of a farmer ploughing the fields.
EC’s records show Lok Dal as a registered, unrecognised party that was formed by socialist leader Charan Singh in 1980 and mention Mulayam as its founder member.
According to the EC rules, all parties have to make their pick from the list of free symbols, unless they are a registered, recognised national or state party.
The EC has a list of symbols, which are reserved for recognised national and state parties. For instance ‘lotus’ for the BJP and ‘flowers and grass’ for the TMC across the country.
It also has a list of registered unrecognised parties and the list of free symbols approved for each state. No candidate can choose a symbol outside the list.
If parties that are recognised as a state party in one state choose to contest polls in other states, they will be allowed to use their allocated symbol only if no other party has precedence over them in symbol allotment.
For example, if Shiv Sena that has the symbol of bow and arrow in Maharastra chooses to contest in Bihar, it cannot use the symbol, as it is already registered with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha there.
Parties rely on symbols to reach out to electorates who are unfamiliar with the names of candidates in the fray. Voting machines, too, carry symbols along with candidates’ names and photographs.