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Will MNS garner enough votes to get party symbol?

With Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leaders hoping to 'open account in Parliament' after contesting 12 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, there is also the issue of whether it would get enough votes to be allotted a party symbol.

india Updated: May 10, 2009 11:28 IST

With Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders hoping to 'open account in Parliament' after contesting 12 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, there is also the issue of whether it would get enough votes to be allotted a party symbol.

"Symbol is the identity of any political party and it plays an important role in wooing voters," according to political analyst Surendra Jondhale.

The symbol helps create the political culture of a party, Jondhale, a professor of Politics at Mumbai University, told PTI.

"In a Parliamentary system like India, people vote for parties because they form the government. In order to forge an identity among voters, a symbol is necessary," Head of the Department of Politics in SIES college, Manisha Tikekar said.

MNS spokesperson Shirish Parkar said a common symbol is necessary, adding that different symbols on which MNS candidates contested, may have confused rural voters.

"There are chances that different symbols of MNS candidates might have confused the rural voters because the voters know only Raj Thackeray," Parkar, who contested from North Mumbai constituency against BJP's Ram Naik, said.

MNS candidates contested using three symbols -- the railway engine, whistle and drum.

The symbol also decides the ideology of a party, Tikekar said.

"Congress' earlier symbols, a pair of bulls and cow and calf, represented agricultural society of India. BJP's Lotus and Shiv Sena's Bow and Arrow basically belong to the Hindu community," she said.

The three-year old MNS, has been in the limelight for its anti-north Indian campaign which turned violent, leading to imprisonment of Raj Thackeray.

The campaign was successful in attracting local youth. It may help MNS get a good response in the poll.

However, getting a party symbol from the Election Commission (EC) would require that MNS wins at least two seats and a minimum six per cent of the polled votes in the state.

"For any political party, it is mandatory to get two of its members elected in Lok Sabha and it also has to secure at least six per cent of total votes to get recognised as a state party," Maharashtra's Chief Electoral Officer Debashish Chakravarti said.

Accordingly, MNS needs to secure at least 22 lakh votes of the 3.69 crore votes polled in the state. This means that on an average, each of its candidates must get around 1.84 lakh votes.

However, MNS leaders do not seem that confident that the party would be able to garner those many votes.

"Our party has done well. Let us wait till the results on May 16," Parkar said.

Fielding more candidates could be a solution to meet the maximum votes criteria, but Parkar does not think so.

"Contesting all seats and not winning them is not how we would prefer it," he added.

"We are making our base strong in the state, starting with contesting limited seats. We would gradually increase the number of candidates," Parkar said.