What do cauliflower, a sewing machine and an open palm have in common? All could appear on the ballot in municipal polls in India’s capital next month. Including a symbol next to candidates’ names, representing their political party, dates to 1951, when fewer than one in five people in the newly independent country could read. Though a nice idea, the proliferation of registered parties has complicated matters. Major parties get permanent symbols, but hundreds of smaller ones must choose from an ever-expanding list of approved “free symbols” every election. Nail clippers, a toothbrush and a dish antenna are now up for grabs. Two state parties are battling not only over ideology or parliamentary seats but over a bicycle; the dispute may have to be resolved by drawing
Left: A man rides his cycle past elephant statues, political symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party, at Ambedkar Park in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. (AP Photo)
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