Kerala

No change in allotted symbols: SEC

There will be no change in the symbols assigned to candidates in the fray for the local body polls in December, State Election Commissioner (SEC) V. Bhaskaran made it clear on Saturday.

Neither will there be any changes in the listing order of the names of candidates in the ballot, Mr. Bhaskaran said, citing the relevant sections of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipality Act.

The matter had come to the fore recently after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) objected to the allocation of 'rose' as symbol to Independents who were namesakes of BJP candidates in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. As these candidates were listed next to BJP candidates, voters would be confused by the similar names and symbols (rose and lotus), the BJP had complained to the Commission, demanding the replacement of the rose symbol and a change in the listing order of candidates.

The official statement on the Commission's decision on Saturday did not specifically mention the BJP complaint or any other petition it received in this regard.

The Commission pointed out on Saturday that both Acts prescribed the Malayalam alphabetical order for the listing of the candidates. Which means, people with the similar names would be listed next to each other. In this matter, the Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections are governed by Section 38(2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which dictates that the names would be listed in the order of recognised political parties, and other candidates. This provision is, however, not present in the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipality Act, Mr. Bhaskaran said. This being the case, the Commission cannot allow the demand that the listing order be changed, he said.

The Commission also made it clear that the symbols are assigned by the returning officers. Once the allocation is made, they cannot be withdrawn or replaced with another. The list of symbols are published by the Commission through a gazette notification. The complaints were received after the publication of the list of symbols with the names of the candidates on November 23. In such a situation, symbols cannot be withdrawn or replaced, Mr. Bhaskaran said.

The BJP would move the Kerala High Court against the Commission's decision, BJP Thiruvananthapuram district president V. V. Rajesh said. He added that the issue would be highlighted strongly in the BJP campaign. The allocation of symbol and the listing order cannot be seen as a coincidence, he said, attributing the entire issue to a conspiracy hatched by the CPI(M) to defeat the BJP unfairly.

“It is obvious that the voters would be confused. This is tantamount to cheating them,” Mr. Rajesh said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 10:47:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/no-change-in-allotted-symbols-sec/article33201653.ece

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