While seeking the response of the Election Commission as well as the DMK and the AIADMK to a plea to declare as illegal the results of polls in five Parliamentary constituencies where members of different political parties had contested on the reserved election symbols belonging to the two principal Dravidian parties, the Madras High Court has posed a valid question: “How can a party member contest on symbols of other parties?” Admitting a plea by an advocate, a division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee cited the larger issue of fairness and purity in conduct of elections and said it is a case that required consideration and adjudication.
The court said it can take judicial notice of the fact that pursuant to various decisions of the Supreme Court, major electoral reforms were made through amendments to the Representation of People Act. In his plea, M L Ravi, who is also president of the Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi, contended that though the four candidates were not DMK members, they were permitted to contest on the symbol allotted exclusively to the party, which was nothing but a violation of the Representation of People Act. The petitioner submitted that reserved symbols are allotted to registered, recognised political parties and free symbols to both registered political parties and independent candidates. Since the four candidates have been successfully elected, the petitioner wanted their election declared null and void.
Contesting on DMK’s rising sun symbol, MDMK’s A Ganesamurthi won from Erode and Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi founder T R Paarivendhar from Perambalur Lok Sabha segment. Similarly, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi’s D Ravikumar emerged victorious in Villupuram and Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi’s nominee AKP Chinraj from Namakkal. The parties of all the four winners were DMK’s allies and they had a pre-poll seat sharing arrangement. Some major electoral reforms are needed on this front to stop this trend of non-members contesting on popular symbols of established parties.