Electoral Reforms In India

Election Symbols Issue in Maharashtra

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Election Symbols Allotment

Mains level : Split in a Political Party

Introduction

  • A faction within a political party led by the Maharashtra Deputy CM has been officially recognized as the legitimate group by the Election Commission of India retaining its election symbol.

Also read:

How are Symbols allotted to Political Parties in India?

Election Symbol and its Significance

  • Electoral Impact: Election symbols play a crucial role in shaping the electoral fortunes of political parties, influencing voter perception and identification.
  • Transparency Concerns: The current system of symbol allotment warrants review to ensure transparency and fairness in the electoral process.

EC’s Powers in Symbol Disputes

  • Legal Framework: Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, empowers the ECI to adjudicate disputes arising from splits within political parties.
  • Test of Majority: The ECI conducts a test of majority, considering all available facts and circumstances, to determine the legitimate faction.
  • Binding Decision: The decision of the ECI is binding on all rival sections or groups emerged after the split, applicable to recognized national and state parties.

Historical Precedents

  • Pre-1968 Era: Before the Symbols Order, 1968, the ECI addressed disputes through notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
  • High-profile Cases: Notable cases include the split of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1964 and the first split in the Indian National Congress in 1969.

Options for Resolution

  • Symbol Freeze: The ECI may freeze the symbol to prevent either faction from using it until a final decision is reached, a process that typically involves lengthy hearings.
  • Legal Proceedings: Parties may resort to legal recourse if internal resolution or EC intervention fails to resolve the dispute.

Alternate Resolution Mechanisms

  • Majority Test: EC primarily relies on testing the support within the party organization, particularly among elected MPs and MLAs, to determine faction legitimacy.
  • Registration as Separate Party: Splinter groups not recognized by the parent party may register themselves as separate entities and seek national or state party status based on electoral performance post-registration.

Conclusion

  • The recognition of political factions by the Election Commission underscores the complexities of symbol allotment and intra-party disputes.
  • As the EC navigates these challenges, ensuring procedural fairness and upholding democratic principles remain paramount in fostering trust and integrity in the electoral process.

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