READY TO announce a pre-poll alliance with Akhilesh Yadav for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the Congress is not worried about the possibility of the Chief Minister losing the Samajwadi Party’s “cycle” symbol. With the Congress having changed its symbol twice since Independence, party strategists said it was not a worrying factor.
“It doesn’t matter in today’s day and age. Remember, we got the “hand” as our election symbol in 1978, and within two years, we swept the elections. That was a time when there were no television channels like today…Today, the new symbol can be propagated much more easily because of the penetration of television news channels. The channels will make his job easier. Besides, there is social media,” said a senior Congress leader.
However, with the Election Commission yet to announce its decision on the dispute between the factions led by Akhilesh and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the party is getting anxious about the delay. Both the groups have laid claim to the “cycle” symbol. The process of filing nominations for the first phase begins from January 17.
“We are getting ready. But the hitch is the time the Election Commission is taking to decide the matter and pronounce its order. Once the Election Commission announces its decision, the alliance will be announced,” said a senior leader. Meanwhile, the Congress on Saturday announced a screening committee under the chairmanship of Ashok Gehlot to select its candidates.
With the Congress also holding talks with Ajit Singh, sources said the alliance make take the shape of a Bihar-style grand coalition. Although party leaders said the details of the alliance — like how many seats and which seats each party will contest — are yet to be decided, sources said the Congress estimates that it will get around 100 seats.
The Congress had to change its election symbol twice before it got the “hand” as its symbol in 1978. The party contested the first general elections in 1951, under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, with a “pair of bullocks and a plough” as its election symbol. After the Congress split in 1969, Indira Gandhi was forced to change the symbol again. She chose “a cow and a calf” after she failed to get the old symbol from the Election Commission.