The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) national ambition of ushering in a new electoral wave may hit a hurdle amid confusion, as smaller parties are after the AAP's election symbol.
Unlike a national party, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP does not have a right over its election symbol — broom — across India despite its recognition as a state party after forming the government in Delhi.
Even though the election symbol order says a state party should be given preference over unrecognised parties, the Election Commission (EC) has not yet issued any direction to chief electoral officers of states to reserve broom as an election symbol of the AAP.
With the Lok Sabha elections inching closer, chief electoral officers are getting requests from smaller parties to reserve the symbol for them.
The Unnati Party in Uttar Pradesh has moved high court, staking claim to the broom as it reportedly had contested the 2012 elections with this symbol. The Lucknow bench has issued a notice to the EC on the petition.
In Gujarat, another small party has asked the chief electoral officer to reserve broom as its symbol for the 2014 elections. It has also threatened to move court if it did not get its preferred symbol.
“It appears broom is the most-sought after election symbol among smaller political parties this season,” said a senior EC official, adding some other state election offices have received requests from parties to reserve torch, which resembles a broom, as their election symbol.
The AAP had estimated that it lost about eight assembly seats in Delhi because of the large number of votes cast in favour of candidates contesting with torch as their symbol.
EC officials admit there are also requests for symbols which appear similar to broom and can create confusion among voters.
The requests have started pouring in, with the EC recently allowing political parties to apply for their choice of free symbols. The symbol order allows parties to stake claim to a free symbol on first-come-first-serve basis.
A political party fighting polls with different election symbols in different states is not new in India. The Rashtriya Lok Dal has contested polls in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh with different election symbols. The Rashtriya Janata Dal has done the same in Bihar and Jharkhand.
But, not having a uniform symbol creates confusion in minds of voters, and poses problems to a party during campaigning and voting.