With elections around the corner, we take a look at the party symbols of the biggest political parties, their meanings and a little bit of the party history.
The Indian National Congress: The Congress party has one of the most recognisable symbols in the country. 'The hand' by the Congress has been praised, revered, mocked and shunned. Congress has seen both good and bad days. The initial symbol of two bullocks and a plough was discarded by Indira Gandhi, when the Congress party was split during the Emergency. Gandhi adopted the symbol of a right hand, with the palm facing front. The fingers of the hand are pressed together. The hand is a connotation for strength, energy and unity. The party speaks of secularism and the hand is a reflection of the same. The symbol is drawn against the backdrop of the Indian tricolor.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): The Bharatiya Janata Party follows a right wing, Hindu nationalist agenda. A majority member of the National Democratic Alliance, the BJP is currently vying for the vote of the Hindu majority under prominent leader Narendra Modi. The BJP symbol is the lotus against a saffron and green bi-coloured background. The symbol holds many prominent connotations with respect to Hindu sentiments. The Lotus is the national flower of the country and a symbol of the Hindu Goddess Saraswati, Goddess of Learning. The color Saffron in the backdrop, as represented in the Indian tri-color stands for courage and sacrifice and the color green portrays faith and prosperity. Thus the symbol broadly stand for the growth and prosperity of its electorate.
Samajwadi Party: The Samajwadi Party, one of the few parties formed after the split of major faction Janata Dal; believes in creating a socialist and democratic society. It is a regional political party of India formed in 1992 in Lucknow. Its mass base is primarily in the state of Uttar Pradesh, though it also has considerable presence in states such as Karnataka, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The party symbol is a bicycle drawn against a background of red and green bi-colored flag. Where as red stand for struggle, green refers to the humble and rooted moralities of the party. The bicycle is again a humble mode of transport, something frequently used by the general masses of the country. Thus the symbol and flag of the party, stands as a direct connotation of the party's principles.
Bahujan Samaj Party: This Dalit national political party started by Kanshi Ram in 1984 chose the elephant as their symbol. Later Mayawati took over as the leader of the party in 1993. The elephant facing left denotes will power and physical strength. The party has this as their symbol in all the states except Asssam and Sikkim, where BSP must choose another symbol. The peaceful animal signifies that the lower class will be empowered to fight against the higher strata of society.
Janata Dal (U): The fifth largest party in the Lok Sabha was founded by Sharad Yadav. The secularist and socialist party has a large mass base in Bihar and Jharkhand.The symbol is an arrow drawn out on the middle white strip of a green and white colored flag. The arrow signifies unity,focus and aim. Widely revered in Indian mythology, the arrow helps the party convey its aims. The symbol is an offshoot of the Samata Party of George Fernandes.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is based on ideologies of Periyar, the father of Dravidan ideologies.It is a regional political party with a centre- left political position and political ideologies of Social Democracy, Democratic Socialism and Populism. Its mass base is in the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India. The Krunanidhi led party is symbolized by 'The Rising Sun' The symbol is a connotation for the rise of the Dravidians in the country, indicating that they rose as the magnificent sun. DMK holds democratic and socialism in high esteem. The aim of the Kazhagam, according to the party documents, is to strive and forge a Dravidian cultural co-operation among the four South states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. Thus the symbol is significant of its goals as well as achievements.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) : The leading communist party in the country, the CPI(Marxist) has been a constant supporter for the rights of the working class. Formed in the year 1964, the CPI(M), as it is popularly known, split form its parent party the Communist Party of India (CPI), because of change in ideologies. The symbol of the party consists of a sickle and hammer, intersecting each other against a red flag in the background. The red color of the flag signifies the communist color of struggle where as the sickle and hammer signify the agricultural community in the country. As a voice for the worker class, the CPI (Marxist) functions well in tune with the trade unions.
Biju Janata Dal: Founded in December 1997, the Biju Janata Dal or the BJD is a regional political party of India. Having split from the larger faction Janata Dal, the party stands by democracy and liberalism. The election symbol of the Biju Janata Dal, as approved by the Election Commission of India, is the “conch which is turned right”. The shankh(as called in Hindi) is synonymous of the ancient Indian tradition. Said to be the emblem of Lord Vishnu, a Hindu deity, the conch is a connotation for prosperity and equality. It also stands for sovereignty and power. The party aims strengthen the well being of its electorate by bringing in new reforms and development.
Shiv Sena: The Hindu nationalist party from Maharashtra has been in the news, not just in the state but also nationally. After the demise of the party patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray in 2012, his son Uddhav Thackeray took over the mantle of running the party. The party symbol of a 'Bow and Arrow' is drawn against the backdrop of the saffron color, a color that denotes Hinduism. The bow and arrow have held an importance in the Hindu traditional epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. This ancient tool that was used to kill enemies is a revered icon of Hinduism. The symbol thus lives up to its sentiments.
Nationalist Congress Party: When the makers of this party split from the Sonia Gandhi led INC, they adopted the clock as their symbol. The aqua colored clock strikes 10:10. A clock generally denotes timeliness, punctuality, truthfulness(to time) and a fighters spirit. The party tryies hard to emulate the leaders who sought us Independence , thus adopting a symbol which shows their will to work 'round the clock' for the society, seems like a safe bet.
Rashtriya Janata Dal: The party strives on its secularist and socialistic principles. The party was formed by Lalu prasad yadav in the year 1997. The party symbol is a hurricane lamp. The lamp signifies progress, light and enlightenment. The RJD is a progressive, democratic party. It believes it can eradicate the grievances of the masses and usher in some light.
Aam Admi Party (AAP): The party chose the broom as their political symbol and their anti corruption drive has emulated itself on to the party symbol as well. The broom signifies dignity of labour and its a basic tool used to 'clean' spaces. In this case the party aims to 'sweep' corruption away from the system.