The Election Commission has made it clear that a 'common symbol' would not be allotted to the Praja Rajyam Party's candidates for the ensuing Assembly and Lok Sabha elections -- a decision that could prove to be a major electoral disaster for actor Chiranjeevi's fledgling party in Andhra Pradesh.
Now, the PRP will have to contest the elections on different symbols as it is not yet a 'recognised' political party.
Chiranjeevi, however, told newsmen in Nizamabad, where he is conducting a road show on Wednesday, that they would challenge the EC decision in the High Court to get a 'common symbol' allotted.
Chiranjeevi had met Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami in New Delhi recently and pleaded for allocation of a 'common symbol' for PRP candidates as the party has already been 'registered'.
He cited past instances wherein certain parties were allotted a 'common symbol' despite they being not recognised.
The ECI, in a letter to the PRP, clarified that under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2005, only recognised political parties are eligible for a permanent election symbol while 'registered' parties will have to choose from the 'free symbols' available.
While Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM, RJD, NCP and BSP are the recognised political parties at the national level, Telugu Desam Party and Telangana Rashtra Samiti are recognized as state parties in Andhra Pradesh with permanent election symbols.
The PRP wanted 'Sun' as its election symbol but the ECI has declined to allot a common symbol to the five-month-old party.
Ironically, the 'Sun' is not even a free symbol in the list prescribed by the Election Commission of India and the PRP will have to pick from symbols like aeroplane, almirah, axe, balloon, banana, bangles, cake, comb, cot, frock, electric pole, dao, diesel pump, camera, fork, harmonium, etc.
Sources in the EC here told PTI that as per rule 6A of the said Order, a political party shall be eligible for recognition as a state party in a State, "if, and only if" it has secured not less than six per cent of the total valid votes polled in the state and, in addition, it has returned at least two members to the Legislative Assembly and atleast one member to the House of People (Lok Sabha) in a general election.
Since Praja Rajyam is a new party, it has only been registered with the Election Commission of India. It gets recognised only if it fulfills the criteria laid down in the election rules and only then becomes eligible for allotment of a permanent election symbol, a top EC official said.
In the ensuing elections it will have to make do with only the free symbols," the official said.
Being a registered political party, PRP could, however, be given 'preference' in allotment of poll symbol in a particular constituency.
"The PRP also has the option of making a representation, at the time of elections, seeking a common symbol for all its candidates across the state. But the allotment is not guaranteed," the EC official added.
As per para 12 (3) (a) of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2005, if two or more candidates from registered political parties vie for a particular symbol, the allotment is done only through draw of lots.
Besides, if any sitting MLA seeks a particular symbol in a constituency, he shall be allotted the symbol and no one else, the rules say.
As such, there is no guarantee that the PRP will get the symbol of its choice across all constituencies.