Two film stars’ parties’ plea for poll symbol to be heard together

March 24th, 2009 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) Telugu film star Chiranjeevi Tuesday approached the Supreme Court for a fixed poll symbol for his newly-formed political party Praja Rajyam, which intends to field candidates on all 294 assembly seats of Andhra Pradesh and all 42 parliamentary seats from the state during the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state.
Chiranjeevi has also questioned the legality of the Election Commission’s rules for recognizing a political outfit as a state-level party and allocating it a fixed election symbol.

On being apprised of Chiranjeevi’s lawsuit, a bench headed by judge B.N. Agrawal decided to hear his plea along with that of a similar lawsuit of Tamil actor-turned-state legislator Vijayakant A, who had won the Virudhachalam seat of the Tamil Nadu assembly in 2006 general elections.

The bench, which also included judges G.M. Singhvi and Justice R.M. Lodha, decided to hear both the lawsuits together Friday.

Like Chiranjeevi, Vijayakant too has formed a separate political outfit - Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) - in Tamil Nadu and has moved the apex court for a fixed poll symbol for his party throughout the state.

Like Chiranjeevi, Vijayakant too has questioned the Election Commission rules for recognizing a political outfit as state-level party.

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of the Election Commission stipulates that a political outfit would be recognized as a state-level party only if it has secured at least six percent of the total votes polled in the state, besides winning at least two seats in the previous assembly elections or one seat in the Lok Sabha during the previous general elections.

While Vijayakant’s party had secured 8.33 percent of the votes polled in the state in the 2006 assembly elections, it had been able to win only one seat - that of the film star himself.

In the 2006 elections, his party had fielded 232 candidates for the 234-seat assembly and they together had polled 2,746,900 votes. He had last November moved the apex court, which has already issued notice to the poll panel on the lawsuit.

Cheeranjeevi’s party, however, is yet to contest any polls.

In his petition, Chiranjeevi contended his party has a membership of over five million people, which is about 10 percent of the state’s total electorate.

He said that with voters’ turnout being only 60 percent in the state, each of his party members was ready to cast vote in favour of his party, taking it beyond the 6 percent requirement of polled votes, besides securing many assembly and Lok Sabha seats from the state.

Last November, appearing for Vijayakant, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal had asserted that the actor’s party would come to power in the state after the next assembly elections.

To this, the bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan had remarked: “If he was so confident of sweeping the poll, why was he bothered about recognition and the election symbol?”

In his lawsuit, Chiranjeevi contended that the Election Commission earlier had granted a fixed symbol to another political party, Telangana Rashtra Samity (TRS) before it contested any poll.

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