Will rose play spoilsport for lotus to bloom?

Will 'rose' play spoilsport for 'lotus' in Thiruvananthapuram local body election?

Several independent candidates, namesakes of BJP's candidates in Thiruvananthapuram local body elections with rose symbols are posing a threat to BJP

Representative image. Credit: AFP Photo

The 'rose' seems to be posing serious concerns for the 'lotus' in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation.

BJP made a major stride in Thiruvananthapuram Corporation in the 2015 local body elections by winning 35 out of 100 seats up from just six in 2010 and the party is pinning high hopes to secure majority this time and end CPM-led left front's two-decade-long dominance. But a series of independent candidates with names identical to that of BJP candidates and having rose flower as a symbol are posing a serious concern for the saffron party

BJP already launched a stir against the Kerala State Election Commission alleging that it was a deliberate move by the commission as well as some pro-Left employees involved in election duty to allot rose flower as symbols to namesake candidates.

At least eleven wards in Thiruvananthapuram have independent candidates with their names identical to that of BJP's candidates and rose flower as a symbol. At four other local body wards in Thiruvananthapuram district also there are similar namesake candidates with a rose flower as a symbol.

While the ballot papers of Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are having the candidates' names in the order of names of national parties, state parties, other recognised parties and independents, in the local body polls it will be in alphabetic order of candidates' names in Malayalam. Hence the names of independent candidates that are identical would come close. Hence the BJP was concerned if it would confuse voters and affect the winning chances of BJP candidates.

For instance, Anu G Prabha is the BJP candidate at Kazhakoottam ward where Technopark is located, while there is an independent candidate named Anu with the rose flower as a symbol. BJP's Archana Manikantan is facing a threat from M S Archana with rose flower symbol at Powdikonam, which is another ward.

BJP state president K Surendran alleged that it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the elections, that is to be held on December 8.

However, state election commissioner V Bhaskaran told DH that the allegations against the commission in connection to the namesake candidates were baseless. Rose flower has been an approved free symbol of the state election commission for quite a long time. The symbols were allotted to candidates as per their requests only, he said.

While the commission would be giving a reply in this regard to a petition given by the BJP, sources in the party said that it might approach the High Court if the state election commission did not address the issue.

BJP is planning a massive campaign by using the model of the ballot paper to be used on EVMs to ensure that the votes for lotus did not fall accidentally to the rose flower. Both symbols may not look alike when viewed together. But when it is on ballots, there are considerable chances of voters being confused. Since the number of voters in local body wards are very few compared to that of Assembly and Parliament, each and every vote is very important, said a BJP worker.

Meanwhile, sources in the election commission said that a proposal was sent to the government several years back to make necessary amendments in rules to model the ballot papers for local body polls on the lines of those for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections so that such confusions could be averted. However, there was no action from the government.