Magic of symbols!
They no longer remain simple pictures adorning books of kindergarten children - come election and they transform themselves into images of power - intensely fought over, widely publicised, reluctantly dragged into court wrangles, ardently prayed for, and feverishly dreamt of.
'Election Symbols' — the otherwise non-entities, whose images often have nothing to do with glamour, fame or flamboyance — have come to dominate the election scene in Maharashtra, which is all set to go to the second phase of polls on April 26.
As the mast flutters and the election bugles feverishly pick up momentum just before the campaigning dust settles down, voters in the state are inundated with badges, posters, leaflets and banners of election symbols ranging from a majestic pachyderm to the humble cycle.
While a bright poster talks highly about the 'hand' being a symbol of support to the poor, 'the lotus in bloom' talks about the achievement of the saffron combine.
The Sena, with its sharp-hitting repartees and pointed remarks is ensuring that the 'bow and arrow' receives the maximum stamp of approval while the NCP workers have spared no efforts in ensuring that the 'clock' turns in their favour through wide scale campaigns and public rallies.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has chosen to throw its weight around by fielding the 'elephant' in 23 seats for the second phase of the polls, thereby threatening to split the 'secular votes' in the state.
The Bharipa Bahujan Sangh, which represents the Dalit votes, has sought to construct its citadel by setting up its 'bungalow' symbols and the Samajwadi Party has decided to 'cycle' its way to fame.
While national parties have stuck to their traditional symbols, the minor parties and independents have been allotted a range of interesting symbols.
The Akhil Bhartiya Sena has decided to zoom into the forefront with the 'aeroplane' as its symbol but the National Loktantrik Party would be more grounded by fielding the 'motorcar'.
Those wishing to score the highest runs in the political match is Khan Mohammed Meraj, an independent, from North Mumbai central who has chosen to 'bat' on a tough political wicket from this constituency.
Keen to roll out all opposition, Umesh Dende, an independent from Mumbai northeast has pitted the 'road roller' for the hustings while his rival has decided to enable voters to let out their steam over various issues by fielding the 'pressure cooker'
Hoping to down the chug down the victory track is Shahaji Thorat from Mumbai northeast constituency who is keen to ensure that his 'railway engine' takes him on a journey to success and fame. Some aspirants like Ansari Ahmed of the Muslim League Kerala State Committee have chosen to make their ambitions clear with the 'ladder' as the symbol.
Vying for attention at the polls would be the humble all purpose household item — the coconut — taken up by the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahsabha to reflect its philosophy.
With whistle blowers becoming headlines, the Lokrajya Party hopes to make it big with the 'whistle' as its election symbol. Hoping to represent the problems of women, independent candidate Vidya Chavan from north-Mumbai, is campaigning widely with the 'gas cylinder'.
Some have decided to throw the light by illuminating the 'candles', while others, keen on carrying the country's responsibility, have propagated the humble 'wicker basket'.
Battling hard to open the doors to political fortunes, an independent candidate has fielded the lock and key symbol while yet another has decided to come out of the closet with 'cupboard' as his symbol.
Envisaging a dream to cut out a new political fabric, an independent has fielded the 'sewing machine' while another has settled for a political tête-à-tête with the 'cup and saucer'.
The political game has been transformed into a symbol for Sunita Arvind, an independent from Icchalkaranji, going in for a 'carromboard' as her symbol. All ready to burst the opposition dreams is Kanchwala Hussain, an independent from Pune with 'balloon' as his symbol.
Waiting to taste the fruits of success are two independents from Pune, who have pitted the humble 'banana' and 'carrot' as election symbols. Yet another has chosen the 'walking stick' to speak about his support to people.
With the second phase of polling just round the corner, and as electorates ponder over the symbols to approve, for the 202 contestants its apparently long wait to see their symbol fly high on the victory mast.