Lok Sabha polls | MDMK loses ‘top’ symbol because of its decision to contest in only one seat

The ECI told the Madras High Court that the concession of allotting the ‘top’ symbol that the party had used prior to 2010, could have been given to it, had it contested in at least two seats in T.N. this year

March 27, 2024 04:35 pm | Updated 06:18 pm IST - CHENNAI

The MDMK has lost the ‘top’ symbol that it used to contest under, until it was de-recognised as a party in 2010. File photograph

The MDMK has lost the ‘top’ symbol that it used to contest under, until it was de-recognised as a party in 2010. File photograph

The MDMK’s decision to accept only one seat allotted to it under the INDIA bloc for this year’s Lok Sabha polls has led to it losing the opportunity to contest under the ‘top’ symbol.

The Election Commission of India on Wednesday refused to allot the symbol that had been reserved for the party until it got derecognised in 2010. The ECI told the Madras High Court that the party’s plea for the symbol could have been considered if it had contested in at least two seats this year.

The High Court closed a writ petition filed by the party, seeking the allotment of the ‘top’ symbol, after observing that it was too late in the day to consider the request since the last date for filing nominations ended on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, and there was no chance of the party’s fielding one more candidate.

Chief Justice Sanjay V. Gangapurwala and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy recorded the submission of ECI counsel Niranjan Rajagopalan that the Commission had considered the party’s representation, as directed by the court on Tuesday, March 26, but rejected it on Wednesday, March 27, since the rules do not permit such an allotment.

The counsel brought it to the notice of the court that though ‘top’ was once a reserved symbol meant for the MDMK, the latter lost the right to its exclusive use of the symbol after it lost its recognition in 2010 when it failed to secure the minimum number of votes required for a party to retain its recognition.

He said that the ‘top’ was neither in the list of reserved symbols nor it had got pushed to the list of free symbols because there was no provision in the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968 for a reserved symbol to be automatically shifted to the free symbols category on account of a party’s de-recognition.

Para 17 of the 1968 Order requires the Election Commission to specifically notify free symbols that could be allotted to the contestants of Assembly and Parliamentary elections. The notification issued for this year’s Lok Sabha elections did not contain the ‘top’ symbol at all, he said.

Nevertheless, the MDMK could have sought the allotment of the ‘top’ symbol by utilising a concession that could be extended to de-recognised political parties, under Para 10B(B)(i), if it had decided to contest in at least two Parliamentary constituencies in Tamil Nadu this year, he added.

Since the party had given a representation clearly indicating that it intends to contest in the Tiruchi Parliamentary constituency alone this year, even such a concession could not be availed of. There was also no possibility of fielding one more candidate because the last date for fling nominations ended at 3 pm on Wednesday, he said.

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