The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which sweeped the Delhi assembly elections with its jhadu, has been asked to respond to a petition that questions its usage of the symbol after a regional party in Uttar Pradesh said that it had been allotted the symbol in 2012.
The Election Commission (EC) and AAP have three weeks to reply on a petition by Naitik Party in the Allahabad High Court. The Lucknow division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Mahendra Dayal passed the order on Thursday while hearing the petition of Chandra Bhushan Pandey of Naitik party, which has sought the ‘jhadu’ for the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Pandey claimed that the party had applied to the EC for the same symbol for Lok Sabha polls on December 4, 2013. It contended that allotting the symbol to AAP would therefore be against the law as the party was allotted the symbol ahead of the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections — much before AAP started using it.
The Naitik party had contested nine seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2012. It lost in all the constituencies and has a vote share of 0.01 per cent.
For AAP, the broom has been a well thought out symbol, and was cleverly integrated into its ‘Is baar chalegi jhadu’ tagline during the Delhi assembly election campaign. AAP won 28 seats in Delhi and although it was a runner-up, it has formed a government in the state. AAP, which has announced plans to contest the 2014 general election, is identified across the country by the jhadu symbol.
Both AAP and Naitik party are regional parties. While AAP is now a state recognised party, Naitik party is yet to be recognised by the EC. According to the EC’s Provision of Symbol Order, it gives a recognised state party priority in granting a symbol in other states, over the other smaller parties in that state.
“We have challenged this Election Commission order in the High Court. We have been contesting the election with broom. It will be a violation of our right to equality if our symbol is given to the other party,” said Pandey. “Just like the Samajwadi Party cannot go to Andhra Pradesh with bicycle as a symbol, in the same way, AAP cannot contest the election with the broom as their symbol in UP.”
Former election commissioner N Gopalaswami said that in this case the recognised party is likely to have a greater say. “After their vote share in the Delhi election, AAP has the mandate of freezing their symbol over the other party,” said Gopalaswami. “The Naitik party also lacks a base while the AAP has a substantial voter base. Henceforth the broom symbol will go out of the general list and will be frozen for AAP.”
AAP did not comment as the matter is sub-judice.