The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) on Saturday lost the fight to wrest back its election symbol of whistle, with the Election Commission deciding to freeze the symbol in Palghar. The BVA, a Congress ally, has fielded former MP Baliram Jadhav from Palghar Lok Sabha constituency against Shiv Sena’s sitting MP Rajendra Gavit.
The newly-formed Bahujan Maha Party (BMP), a registered national party with the Election Commission headquartered in Uttar Pradesh, had been allotted the symbol for contesting the elections across India. The BMP, which had earlier backed the BVA in several polls, had severed its ties with the Hitendra Thakur-led party on April 2.
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The issue of the election symbol had cropped up after the BMP nominated candidates on the Palghar seat. The BVA, led by Vasai MLA Hitendra Thakur, reportedly had held talks with BMP’s national president, Taslimunissa Khan, urging her to change the party’s decision. However, as the talks failed, the BVA had knocked on the Bombay High Court’s door earlier this week, staking a claim on the whistle symbol.
Citing the number of local, state, and general elections fought on the symbol, the BVA argued that voters in Palghar associate the ‘whistle’ with the BVA. As the court refused to grant any interim relief, Thakur’s party withdrew the petition and decided to approach the EC.
On Saturday, Palghar collector Dr Prashant Narnaware, also the Election Returning Officer for the constituency, decided to freeze the symbol.
Interestingly, while two BMP candidates had earlier filed nominations for the seat, one of them withdrew from the race, while the second one was disqualified on technical grounds.
Thakur told The Indian Express that the BVA had now chosen a ‘rickshaw’ as it’s symbol. While denying that the loss of the symbol would impact the BVA’s poll prospects in the constituency, Thakur accused the Shiv Sena-BJP combine of “plotting the conspiracy”.
“They (the saffron combine) do not have faith in their manifesto and their candidate. So, they are resorting to third-rate politics. But they won’t succeed,” he said.
He alleged that ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis government were camping in Palghar ahead of the EC’s decision.