Yeah, yeah! We have heard this ad nauseum but we say it one more time – the largest democracy in the world will go to vote tomorrow.
And this is not a “political” article in that sense; its not about BJP and Congress or about Modi and Rahul. It is about all those parties in the fringes and more interesting – the symbols.
Apart from the hand, lotus, elephant, cycle and broom, there are so many other symbols – gas cylinder, letterbox, pillow, pressure cooker, capsicum, cake, cauliflower, grapes, ginger, biscuit, bread, ice-cream, bread toaster, kitchen sink, kettle, tongs, gas stove, plate stand, frock, pants, bangles, belt, hat, necklace, earrings, purse, socks, door handle, sitar, hour glass, shutter, sofa, stumps, tubelight, water tank. There are even sports symbols – javelin thrower, cricket batsman, footballer, cricket bat.
See what item is missing? No God images for obvious reasons and animals were not allowed after environmentalists – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), complained about how parties paraded “their” animal in the rallies. The BSP’s elephant, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (Goa)’s lion, which is also the symbol of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (Meghalaya) and tiger of the All India Forward Bloc’s (West Bengal), were allowed because it was before the complaints.
Indeed this is the great Indian comedy circus of election. You not only get bizarre people as leaders but one has to tolerate these weird symbols too!
Ever wondered why we have these symbols? Well, they were started way back in 1950-52 when literacy was limited and symbols were the pictorial way to make people remember the party whom they can vote. Today, people are educated and over two third of the population is literate. But despite that symbols stay and grow as they have become an indelible part of our elections, a tool used by politicians to connect to the people.
This time, the EC released a list of some 198 symbols from which parties can make a choice. The number of free symbols in 2014 was 87.
Its no small joke, coming up with these symbols. Imagine in Telengana, where there were 174 candidates, the EC had to come up with things like ginger, chilli, computer mouse and even mobile phone charger! And a political party in Tamil Nadu, which was well known was freebies, was allotted the symbol of gift box! Two candidates in Andhra, with same names but different parties, were given the same symbol too! Imagine the plight of the people in Chhatisgarh where one candidate’s symbol is the whistle and the campaigning is full-on with whistles! Meera Sanyal, a banker, has got the symbol of a batsman.
Well, there are some 2354 listed political parties as per the EC’s list released on 1st April. If that does not cry out for creativity…..