The symbol is your candidate

Richa Mishra | Updated on April 15, 2019

Come elections and voters are more often than not asked whether they are voting for the Lotus, Hand, Two Leaves, Hammer Sickle, Maize, Bicycle and so on and so forth.

With the number of political parties exceeding 2,000 and a new party emerging every day, the easy way for a voter to identify his/her favoured candidate when exercising his/her democratic rights, is through the party symbol.

How are the symbols allotted?

The Election Commission through the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 provides for specification, reservation, choice and allotment of symbols at parliamentary and assembly elections, for the recognition of political parties.

In every election a symbol is allotted to a contesting candidate in accordance with these provisions. Different symbols are allotted to different contesting candidates at an election in the same constituency.

The Election Commission publishes a list specifying the national parties and the symbols reserved for them, and the State parties, the State they belong to and the symbols reserved for them in such States.

It also lists unrecognised political parties and the addresses of their headquarters registered with the Commission, with free symbols for each State and Union Territory also disclosed.

What’s a free symbol?

Symbols can either be reserved or free. A reserved symbol is one which is kept for a recognised political party for exclusive allotment to contesting candidates put up by that party.

A free symbol is one that hasn’t been reserved and is open to new candidates. Political parties can be either recognised by the EC or unrecognised.

Any candidate other than one belonging to a national party or a State party is allotted one of the symbols specified as free symbols.

Some of the free symbols include air-conditioner, baby walker, bead necklace, brief case, capsicum, and chappals to name a few.

How do reserved symbols work?

Whether they belong to a national or a State party, candidates contesting elections are allotted the symbol reserved for the party they’re contesting for. A reserved symbol is not allotted to any other candidate in any constituency other than a nominee of the party for whom such symbol has been reserved.

This holds even if no candidate has been fielded by such parties in that constituency.

A symbol reserved for a State party is not included in the list of free symbols for any other State or Union Territory.

What happens when a State party candidate is contesting in another State?

If a political party that is recognised as a State party in one State puts up a candidate in another State or Union Territory where it is not recognised as a State party, then the candidate could be allotted the symbol reserved for that party in the State in which it is recognised. This is the case even if such symbol is not specified in the list of free symbols in the other State or Union Territory.

What about candidates put up by an unrecognised party that was earlier recognised?

If a political party which is unrecognised at present but was recognised earlier (six years before the date of election notification) puts up a candidate, then the candidate could be allotted the symbol reserved earlier for that party, when it was recognised.

A fortnightly column that unravels poll jargon for first-time voters

Published on April 15, 2019

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