Balloons, candles, binoculars banned near Bengal poll booths

Kolkata, May 3 (IANS) Did you know brandishing commonplace items like balloons, candles, flutes or even the unassuming cauliflower within 100 meters of a poll booth could be a violation of elecction code?

A pen nib with seven rays, a balloon, diamond, binoculars, a bat and candles are some of the symbols allotted to independent candidates in the ongoing West Bengal assembly polls.

As a consequence, these items are not allowed in the sanitised zone surrounding a poll booth, Election Commission officials say.

“Within 100 metres of a polling station on election day (and for 48 hours after it), there should not be a promotion or publicity of the symbol since 100 metres is a sanitised zone and Section 144 (prohibitory orders) are in place,” Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Anjan Ghosh told IANS.

However, that doesn’t mean that if someone chooses a fan for a symbol, the device will not be used inside the booth, he said.

“The rules say that the agents should not sport the candidate’s symbol on the identity card. It should only bear the name,” he said.

Six symbols – elephant, lotus, ears of corn and sickle, hammer sickle and star, hand and clock – are reserved for six national parties while the lion, flowers and grass and spade and stoker are reserved for three state parties.

“Independent candidates and candidates of registered unrecognised political party can select from a list of 109 symbols designated as free symbols. Then there are certain recognised and registered political parties which can apply to the EC and get a symbol reserved from the list of 109, if they fulfill a certain criteria,” Ghosh said, adding there are many such criteria that apply to these free symbols.

This time, there is an addition to the list of 109 free symbols available: a coconut farm.

“After the nomination process got over, we have got one new symbol. This was a last minute addition (in April) and so no one could apply for it in Bengal,” Ghosh said.

An evidence of the poll panel’s enforcement of rules was seen in the second phase when Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal was slapped with a FIR following his turning up at a voting booth sporting his party’s logo.

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at

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