The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday assured that the Prajarajyam Party (PRP) would get preference in choosing a free symbol from those available for independent candidates in the state.The PRP, it can be recalled, is seeking ‘Rail Engine’ as a symbol for all its candidates and even launched a legal battle against certain provisions of the EC’s symbol order for achieving this.
The Election Commission has filed its counter affidavit in the AP High Court in which it made it clear that since PRP is a registered party and not a recognised party, its candidates would be given preference in selecting their symbol from the free symbols. This would adequately protect the rights and interests of PRP and its candidates, Harpreet Singh, additional chief electoral officer of the state, said in the affidavit.
The case of TRS getting a common symbol in 2004 was because of an order from the AP High Court to consider the results secured by that party in the local bodies elections and also by-elections, he said. Reminding that the HC itself made it clear in that order that the TRS case cannot be treated as a precedent in the matters of symbol allotments in future, the EC authority said that they are not bound by that order now to allot a common symbol to PRP.
Responding to the contention of the PRP that since there is no prohibition on the EC to allot a common symbol, it should be given one, the EC authority said this would not entitle the PRP to seek any mandamus from the court. Stating that the classification of the political parties into registered, recognised, unrecognised, etc., made by the EC in its symbol order is an illegal exercise, the counsel for Prajarajyam told the division bench comprising Justice B Prakasa Rao and Justice G Bhavani Prasad. The Representation of People’s Act makes no such distinction, he said.
The EC however in its affidavit told the court that there are nearly 1000 registered unrecognized political parties in the country and it would be impossible for them to allot common free symbols to all of them. It also cited the cases of two other registered but unrecognised parties – Lok Satta and Mana Party – from Andhra Pradesh which are seeking a common free symbol.The bench would hear the case again on Tuesday.