After MDMK general secretary Vaiko, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) president Thol. Thirumavalavan on Saturday spoke in favour of parties contesting on their own symbols in the 2021 Assembly election. Both are allies of the DMK.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the VCK was allotted two seats. In one of the seats, Villupuram, it contested on the DMK’s ‘Rising Sun’ symbol.
Smaller parties are keen on contesting on their own symbols in pursuit of recognition from the Election Commission. For a party to be recognised, it has to poll a certain percentage of votes and win in a specified number of seats in a general election.
However, parties leading alliances want smaller allies to contest on their symbols to improve their prospects. Another advantage is that in the absence of a majority after the election, the party’s whip will be binding on these MLAs.
“Contesting on a popular symbol has its advantages. But it is the aspiration of all parties to contest on their own symbols as their objective is to get recognition from the Election Commission,” Mr. Thirumavalavan said.
“A party’s vote share, especially that of a party resorting to identity politics, will come down by at least 10% when it contests on a non-popular symbol, as in the case of Mr. Thirumavalavan [in 2019, he won by a narrow margin]. But the VCK’s other candidate, Ravikumar, won with a huge margin in Villupuram because he contested on the DMK’s symbol,” political commentator Raveendran Duraisamy said.
He, however, pointed out that contesting on their own symbols would free smaller parties from the clutches of alliance leaders.
“They need not behave like a slave to the alliance leader and can take an independent stand on issues. It also prevents the alliance leader from taking credit for their victory.”
CPI (M) State secretariat member K. Kanagaraj said it was fair on the part of a party to contest on its own symbol. “There is no need to be a separate party if all of us can contest on the same symbol,” he said.
Rejecting the argument that new symbols would not draw the attention of voters, he pointed to the 1996 election in Tamil Nadu. “G.K. Moopanar had launched the Tamil Maanila Congress at the eleventh hour, and it was allotted the bicycle symbol. Still his party swept the election,” he said.