Elections: History of Indian Election Symbol!


History of Indian Election Symbol: Election symbol is very important for any party as it helps voters to identify the candidate of their choice. Let's take a look at why election symbols were needed in India. Along with this, we will also know when and how the country's oldest party Congress, and the largest party BJP got the election symbol of hand and lotus respectively.


Introduction of Election Symbols in India

Before conducting the first Lok Sabha elections in 1951-52, the Election Commission of India realized that election symbols are very important in a country where literacy is less than 20 percent. The Election Commission decided that election symbols will be used that are well-known and easily recognizable to the people. The Election Commission also decided that symbols having any religious or emotional attachment such as cow, temple, national flag, and charkha will not be used as election symbols. Thus, the Election Commission allowed a total of 26 symbols to be used as election symbols during the first Lok Sabha elections.

Before the first Lok Sabha elections, the parties that were recognized as national and regional parties were asked by the Election Commission to choose an election symbol of their choice from these 26 symbols.

congress election symbol

Before the 1951-52 Lok Sabha elections, the first choice of the Congress party as the election symbol was 'plow with oxen' and then 'Congress flag with spinning wheel'. But on 17 August 1951, the Election Commission allotted a 'pair of oxen with yoke' as the election symbol to the Congress. The wooden beam placed on the neck of the oxen is called a yoke.

Interestingly, the current election symbol of the Congress party 'hand' was then given to the All India Forward Block (Ruikar Group). From the first Lok Sabha elections till 1969, Congress contested elections on this symbol. But in 1969, there was a split in the Congress party. The Indian National Congress Party was divided into two parts. One Congress (O) and the other Congress (R). Congress (O) was led by the then Congress President S Nijalingappa while Congress (R) was led by Jagjivan Ram. Jagjivan Ram had the support of Indira Gandhi.

Cows and calves to Congress

On 11 January 1971, the Election Commission said that Jagjivan Ram's Congress i.e. Congress (R) is the real Congress. But the Supreme Court stayed this decision of the Election Commission. The Supreme Court said that neither of the two groups should be allotted a pair of bulls with a yoke'. After which the Election Commission on 25 January 1971 allotted 'woman spinning a charkha' to Congress (O) and 'cow and calf' to Congress (R) as election symbols. 

Many parties objected to the allocation of a cow and calf to the Congress (R) by the Election Commission, saying that it was related to religious sentiments. But the Election Commission rejected these objections.

How did Congress get the hand-election symbol?

In the late seventies, another split occurred in Indira-Jagjivan Ram's Congress. In the 1977 Lok Sabha elections, the Janata Party defeated Indira Gandhi. After this, another faction emerged in the Congress against Indira. This faction was led by Devaraj Urs and K Brahmananda Reddy. 

On 2 January 1978, Indira Gandhi became the President of Congress (I). After this, she requested the Election Commission to return the Congress election symbol of cow and calf. The Election Commission rejected Indira's request. After which Indira Gandhi went to the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court also refused to interfere in this matter.

On 2 February 1978, the Election Commission recognized Congress (I) as a national party and allotted it the 'hand' symbol. Later, the Election Commission canceled the 'calf and cow' symbol and allotted the 'charkha' symbol to the Congress faction Congress (U) led by Devaraj Urs and K Brahmananda Reddy, recognizing them as a national party. The Election Commission later said that Congress (I) was the real Congress. From the 1984 Lok Sabha elections onwards, Congress (I) became the Congress Party with the 'hand' symbol.

The journey from BJS to BJP and from Lamp to Lotus

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was earlier known as Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS). In the first general election, BJS was allotted Deepak (Lamp). From 1951 to 1977, BJS's election symbol remained Deepak. But in the 1977 election, BJS informally merged with Janata Party. At this time, Janata Party's election symbol was 'Haldhar Kisan' which was inside a wheel.

After defeating Indira Gandhi in the 1977 general election, the Janata Party also started splitting. On 6 April 1980, a group of leaders who were earlier with the Jana Sangh declared Atal Bihari Vajpayee as their leader. Both the groups staked their claim to the Jana Sangh Party before the Election Commission. But the Election Commission ruled that no faction would use this name until the final decision. 

On 24 April 1980, the Election Commission confiscated the Janata Party's election symbol Tahaldhar Kisaan, and recognized Vajpayee's faction as the Bharatiya Janata Party as a national party. The Bharatiya Janata Party was allotted the lotus flower as its election symbol.