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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Maha polls’ bizarre symbols: Drill machine, road roller, watermelon, bat

mumbai Updated: Oct 10, 2019 00:16 IST

What is common between a drill machine, road roller, bat, carrom board, CCTV cameras and a watermelon? All of them are election symbols of lesser-known parties and independent candidates contesting the Assembly elections.

Among the list of bizarre symbols are a biscuit, coconut, helicopter, ship and Mumbai’s favorite autorickshaw. Harsvardhan Pandey, an independent candidate from Chandivali, has a water tank as his election symbol, while Abdul Baig, another independent candidate from Anushakti Nagar, has the popular game Ludo as his symbol.

With a large part of its population illiterate when the first general elections were held in 1951-52, visual symbols were allotted to candidates and parties. Some of the most popular symbols are of the national parties – the Congress’s hand, Bharatiya Janata Party’s lotus of and Shiv Sena’s bow and arrow.

According to the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, the Election Commission allots symbols to anyone contesting the polls. If the candidate is from a recognised party, he gets the party’s symbol. For independents or candidates from unrecognised parties, the candidate has to approach the EC and get a symbol allotted from the available list.

Anil Koni, who contested the recent Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate from Mumbai North East, had a stethoscope as his symbol. “It was so difficult to popularise the symbol, as I did not know what it was called in Hindi or Marathi. Plus, the symbol was allotted only 15 days prior to the election which made it tougher.”

Surendra Jondhale, a political analyst, said some of these “obscure” symbols also undermine the political ambitions of an independent candidate. “Bizarre symbols that people can’t connect to erase the identity of the independent candidates who are already fighting a tough battle against established parties.”