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Evolution of Election Symbols of INC and BJP: 15 April 2024

What are the Regulations on Election Symbols ?

  • Rules Governing Symbols: Rules 5 and 10 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, address election symbols.
  • Rule 5 Description: It mandates that the Election Commission of India (ECI) specifies available symbols for candidates in parliamentary and assembly elections, along with any restrictions on their choice.
  • Election Symbols Order, 1968: Defines “reserved symbols” as those exclusively allotted to recognized political parties and “free symbols” as those available to others.
  • Importance of Symbols: Recognized prior to the first Lok Sabha election in 1951-52, election symbols are vital for communication in a country with low literacy rates (below 20% at the time).
  • Allotment of Free Symbols: Free symbols are assigned to independent candidates and unregistered parties based on their preferences and requests.


Indian National Congress:

  • 1951: Initially, the Indian National Congress preferred symbols like ‘Plough with Bullocks’ and ‘Congress Flag with Charkha’. However, on August 17, 1951, they were allotted the symbol ‘Two Bulls with Yoke’.
  • 1969: The Congress split into two factions: Congress (O) for Organization led by S Nijalingappa, and Congress (R) for Requisitionists led by Jagjivan Ram, backed by Indira Gandhi.
  • 1971: The Election Commission of India (ECI) initially ruled Congress (R) as the real Congress on January 11, but the Supreme Court stayed this order. The ECI then allotted ‘Charkha being Plied by Woman’ to Congress (O) and ‘Calf and Cow’ to Congress (R) on January 25.
  • Late 1970s: After another split, Indira Gandhi sought to retain ‘Calf and Cow’, but was denied by the ECI. On February 2, 1978, the ECI recognised her faction as the Indian National Congress (I) and allotted the ‘Hand’ symbol.
  • 1979: The ECI froze the ‘Calf and Cow’ symbol and recognized the Devraj Urs faction as a national party, Indian National Congress (U), allotting it the ‘Charkha’ symbol.
  • 1984 onward: The ECI confirmed the Congress (I) as the real Indian National Congress, and from this election onward, it has used the ‘Hand’ symbol.

Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP):

  • 1951: BJS was allotted the ‘Deepak’ (Lamp) symbol.
  • 1977: BJS informally merged with the newly formed Janata Party.
  • 1980: After multiple splits within the Janata Party, the ECI froze its symbol and recognised the faction led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the BJP, allotting it the ‘Lotus’ symbol.


Why in News:

  • The 18th Lok Sabha elections are starting on April 19, 2024.