The Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission to allot the railway engine as the common symbol of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena for the impending Assembly elections.
Welcoming the verdict, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray said this will ensure voters are no longer confused while voting for the MNS.
“Voters have always associated the rail engine symbol with our party — fortunately we secured it today. In the last election, some of our candidates were allotted other symbols, which created a lot of confusion among voters, and cost us many votes,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray was referring to some independents who were allotted the railway engine, which ate into the MNS vote base.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam brushed aside Election Commission (EC) counsel Meenakshi Arora’s contention that unregulated allotment of symbols would upset planning at the poll panel, which has only around 70 symbols available, while the number of registered and unrecognised parties exceeds 100.
The MNS approached the SC after the EC rejected its request for a common symbol on the grounds that the MNS was not a “recognised party” and thus not entitled to choose among the free symbols available.
The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2005, says only “recognised” political parties – those that have secured no less than six per cent of total votes polled in the last elections, and also returned at least two members to the Legislative Assembly and one member to the Lok Sabha – are eligible for a common symbol.
The MNS first secured the railway engine symbol in the 2007 Mumbai civic polls, when it was allowed to contest 215 seats. It contested on the “slate” symbol in three seats, and a “cup-and-saucer” in four seats.