CCTV cameras, carrom board: Bizarre symbols make way in Maharashtra polls

What is common between a drill machine, a road roller, a bat, a carrom board, CCTV cameras, and a watermelon? They are all bizarre election symbols of lesser-known parties and independent candidates contesting the Maharashtra Assembly Elections 2019.

While some of the common election symbols for independent candidates continue to be cup and saucer, bat and gas cylinder, there are many bizarre symbols on the list of final candidates.

Among food items are a watermelon, biscuit, and coconut and among vehicles are a helicopter, ship and Mumbai’s favorite auto rickshaw.

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.

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When the first General Assembly elections were held in 1951-52, large part of the population was illiterate and so the visual symbols were alloted to candidates and parties. Some of the most popular symbols are of the national parties — Congress (Hand), Bharatiya Janata Party (Lotus flower) and Shiv Sena (the bow and arrow).

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

Anil Koni, who had contested the recent Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate from Mumbai North East had a stethoscope as his election symbol.

“It was so difficult to popularise the symbol as I did not know what was it 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 that some of these “obscure” symbols also undermine the political ambitions of an independent candidate. “Such bizarre symbols that people cannot connect to erase the identity of the independent candidates who are already fighting a tough battle against established parties.”

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