JD(U) likely to seek new election symbol to widen reach

Bihar's ruling party JD-U could soon have a new election symbol as it plans to widen its reach beyond the state after halting the Narendra Modi juggernaut in state Assembly polls a few months ago.

PTI| Updated: Jan 12, 2016, 14:28 PM IST

New Delhi: Bihar's ruling party JD-U could soon have a new election symbol as it plans to widen its reach beyond the state after halting the Narendra Modi juggernaut in state Assembly polls a few months ago.

After veering round to the view that its existing "arrow" election symbol is "confusing" voters, the party has planned to meet the Election Commission any day after Makar Sankranti and submit a list of its symbol choices to replace the existing one.

Makar Sankranti is on coming Thursday and, hence a forward movement on the issue is expected next week.

The party's bid to seek a new symbol comes ahead of Assembly Election scheduled in five states -- Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal and Kerala, where it is planning to contest as part of some 'grand morcha' on the lines of that formed in Bihar to defeat NDA, sources in JD-U said.

They said that the party is likely to seek one of the three symbols -- tree, a farmer wielding a plough and hut.

Banyan tree was the symbol of Samyukta Socialist Party, while Praja Socialist Party's symbol was hut. Farmer with plough was the symbol of Lok Dal.

All of them were part of larger Janata Parivar family at some point or the other. After initially showing keenness to get the 'wheel' symbol of erstwhile Janata Dal, JD-U has given up the hope on it as it is not sure of the support of Janata Dal (Secular).

A JD-U delegation had met the Election Commission immediately after the Bihar polls to discuss the issue of symbol. Responding to their demand for the wheel symbol, the EC is learnt to have told them that the wheel symbol can be given to them if JD(S) does not object to it.

The sources in the party said that after Makar Sankranti, a party delegation will visit the EC to take up the matter. JD-U is hopeful that it will get the new symbol by the month end. The party's hunt for the new symbol emanates from a feeling that something much more identifiable with the people should be its election symbol.

Moreover, JD-U's symbol arrow is also identical with the bow and arrow symbol of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Shiv Sena. There is a feeling in the party that JD-U lost a good number of votes in a number of seats in Bihar even in this Assembly Election due to its symbol being confused with that of Shiv Sena and JMM.

At its national executive meeting on December 20-21, last year, the party had passed a resolution, saying, "Janata Dal is deeply concerned about its election symbol, which found similarity with election symbols of other political parties in the recently completed assembly election. "In the last election for Bihar Assembly and election for Lok Sabha in different states, the reason of defeat of Janata Dal (U) candidates was similar election symbols," it said.

At the meeting, the party had unanimously resolved to "approach the Election Commission effectively for allotment of a new symbol to JD(U)" and authorised party president Sharad
Yadav to pursue the matter with the poll panel. 

A party functionary, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in the recently concluded Bihar polls, it had been observed and there is also a feedback from voters
that they had to face confusion in selecting the symbol arrow of JD(U).

"The reason for confusion was almost identical symbol of two other parties -- Shiv Sena and JMM. It has not happened for the first time in Bihar, but our candidates were defeated
in the past too in other states only because of similar symbols of some other parties."

"Therefore, it is essential that some other symbol is allotted to our party in order to protect the right of citizens to exercise their franchise for the candidates of their choice," the party functionary. 

He said that the matter was discussed in detail in the party's national executive here, which was also attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The party will approach the EC with the drawings of the symbols and a copy of the resolution. The party will request the EC to freeze its arrow symbol while granting it a new one.

The wheel symbol of Janata Dal was frozen in 1999 as the party was split into JD(U) led by Sharad Yadav and JD-S under HD Deve Gowda when the former decided to join the then NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The two parties were then allotted separate symbols -- 'farmer driving a tractor' to JD(S) and 'arrow' to Sharad Yadav's party.

Later, JD(S) changed its symbol to a 'woman farm labourer carrying a stack of paddy on her head'.

Sharad Yadav's faction of Janata Dal, Samata Party and Lokshakti of former Karnataka chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde later merged to form Janata Dal (U) and retained the symbol of arrow.

In the 1962 General Election, Praja Socialist Party had the 'hut' election symbol. In 1964, Praja Socialist Party, also known Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party, and Socialist Party combined to form Samyukta Socialist Party. Socialist Party's symbol was banyan tree then.

The Election Commission then allotted the 'hut' symbol to the new party. However, the two parties fell apart by 1965. The hut symbol was back to Praja Socialist Party while
Socialist Party retained the name of Samyukta Socialist Party. In 1975, Samyukta Socialist Party and Praja Socialist Party again merged and formed Socialist Party which merged
with Charan Singh's Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Swatantra Party and Biju Patnaik's Utkal Congress. They together formed BLD just before Indira Gandhi declared Emergency.

Later, when the representatives of the four non-Communist opposition parties formed a new party -- Janata Party, they decided to contest on a common symbol of 'farmer with plough'
of Bhartiya Lok Dal. It was on this symbol that Janata Party had scored its spectacular victory against Congress in 1977 ushering in the first non-Congress government to power after Independence.