ECI has the power to withdraw a party’s symbol: former CEC

Commission can issue notice for the withdrawal of a symbol for abusive language against a candidate, says Gopalaswami

Published - March 28, 2021 01:17 am IST - Chennai

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has the power to issue notice for the withdrawal of a party’s symbol for abusive language against a candidate, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswami said.

Speaking at a webinar on the ‘Challenges in ensuring enhanced voter participation’ — a public interest initiative on the Right to Vote by Nippon Paint and powered by The Hindu — on Saturday, Mr. Gopalaswami said a symbol order was under the powers of the ECI.

“They cannot derecognise a party. But they can take away the symbol. I hope at some point of time, the ECI takes things to that extreme and disassociates a particular party from a symbol, which will be in our circumstances a big blow. That step has to be taken wherever there is egregious violence or misconduct,” he said.

‘Covered in MCC’

Pointing to reports of abusive language “questioning somebody’s birth”, Mr. Gopalaswami said such things were covered in the model code of conduct (MCC).

“Earlier, they used to get a notice. The question is what next? I think the Commission in the last election indicated what next. They can definitely issue a notice for the withdrawal of the party’s symbol,” Mr. Gopalaswami said.

Increasing turnout

Stressing on the need to increase the turnout in elections, the former Chief Election Commissioner said voters in urban constituencies, including in Chennai, seemed to be less enthusiastic about voting.

“Tamil Nadu has been a fairly high-polling State. But urban voters seem to be thinking that their votes do not count,” he said.

Arguing against online voting, Mr. Gopalaswami said citizens committed to democracy should spend 30 minutes and visit a polling station once in five years. “Those with a higher income level have developed cynicism. Urban voters are slightly less enthusiastic. Sceptical voters may keep urban voting at a lower level,” he said.

‘In 32 countries’

Answering questions about the action that can be taken against those who do not turn up to vote, Mr. Gopalaswami said voting was compulsory in only around 32 countries.

Mark Titus, director marketing, Nippon Paint India (Decorative Division), said corporates must incentivise voting to increase the turnout in elections.

Other topics covered by the webinar included suggestions for increasing participation in elections, lowering the age ceiling for postal ballots and electoral reforms for voter turnout. The webinar was moderated by T. Ramakrishnan, Associate Editor, The Hindu . The TV partner for the webinar was News 18 Tamil.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.