New Delhi: With a month to go for the Karnataka Assembly elections where the ruling Congress is involved in a pitched battle against the BJP, the Election Commission has accepted a plea seeking cancellation of the Congress ‘hand’ symbol and is set to hear the plea filed by a BJP leader on April 18.
In January this year, a plea was filed before the commission, arguing that the palm is an ‘inseverable’ part of the human body and it violates the model code of conduct. In a letter addressed to the applicant, Ashwini Upadhyay, the EC has agreed to hear the plea in person on April 18. Deputy Election Commissioner, Bhushan Chandra Kumar, would hear the plea.
The complainant has stated that the Model Code of Conduct, which is enforced by the Election Commission, before the election commences and continues until completion of poll, provides that campaigning shall stop 48 hours prior to the commencement of polling and also restricts the canvassing within 100 meters of polling station.
However, “since the election symbol of Indian National Congress is ‘Hand’, its candidates, supporters and agents always carry it, even when campaigning is stopped.” The complainant said that the election symbol allotted to Indian National Congress should be cancelled as its continuation would amount to “violation of Model Code of Conduct and Section 130 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 in every election.”
He also alleged that contesting candidates, supporters and agents of the Indian National Congress misuse the election symbol ‘Palm of Hand’ “even inside the polling booths by gesturing and showing the preference for the voting.”
“Every time a candidate of the said party or his supporter passes through voters in public gathering, they use ‘Palm of Hand’ to solicit vote for Congress candidate, not only prior to the polling, even on the polling day within the 100 meters,” stated Upadhyay.
The complainant has also laid down the history of election symbols allotted to the Congress Party. “Election Commission allotted election symbol 'Pair of Bullock carrying Yoke' to Indian National Congress and it successfully contested the first four general elections with this symbol. After internal split, Congress contested fifth general election with election symbol 'Cow and Calf' and after another internal split, the Election Commission allotted election symbol ‘Palm of Hand’ to Indian National Congress,” the complaint reads.