Bhubaneswar, : A poll symbol is the standard identity of a party and its candidate when he or she contests an election anywhere in the world. India is no exception. In fact, we have more parties at regional and national level than any other country and their candidates entering the electoral battles at state and national level every five years are innumerable. Nevertheless, the political parties that matter are a few and voters identify them with their symbols, particularly at the time of exercising their franchise. Needless to say, poll symbol is crucial and it can make or mar a contestant’s political fortunes.
People are familiar with symbols like lotus that represents the Bharatiya Janata Party; hand which stands for the Congress; and hammer and sickle of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The Election Commission of India, the apex body that conducts polls for states and Parliament, has a long list of symbols. At any given point of time, it maintains at least 100 free symbols that have not been allotted to any party. The symbols chosen are such that they can be easily understood, remembered and recognised by the average voter.
Fourteen candidates are fighting for the Bhubaneswar Parliamentary constituency for which election will be held April 23. Of them, many have unique symbols like chappal, allotted to Biswanath Rout of Krupaa Party; bat for Bhakta Sekhar Ray; scissors for Madhusudhan Yadav; calculator for Mahesh Chandra Sethy; whistle for Sanjaya Kumar Sahoo; Helmet for Jayant Kumar Das; Chaki for Ashutosh Samantaray and pot for Susil Kumar Jena.
Similarly, for the Assembly elec tion from Bhubaneswar North, Centre and Ekamra constituencies, several candidates have unusual symbols. Activist and columnist Rudra Prasanna Rath said symbols have value system attached to them. Many want symbols which are associated with the common man. But the beauty of such symbols is missing as Independent candidates are not that big to make an impact, Rath added. A shift is also seen in selecting poll symbols. While Independent candidates were earlier contesting on symbols such as pot, bus or kite they now prefer to contest on symbols such as laptop or helmet.
Mahesh Sethy, an Independent candidate from Bhubaneswar (Central) whose symbol is calculator, said he will fight for improving the education level in the city as government universities and colleges are not providing quality education and students do not get practical learning. “I will also work for the improvement of the lives of labourers and makeshift shop owners who were being removed from their place of business repeatedly,” said Sethy, a civil engineer degree holder from Biju Patnaik University of Technology