Evolution of Political Parties Symbols in India

14 Sep 2023  Read 2203 Views

Election symbols are like a party's unique signature in an election. When voters go to the polling booth, they don't see the candidate's face or name; instead, they see this symbol. 

These symbols were introduced in the very first general elections to help everyone, including those who can't read, identify their preferred candidate. What's fascinating is that even the two biggest national parties in India, the BJP and Congress, have changed their symbols many times since then.

So, these symbols hold a lot of importance in our elections. Let's delve into this article to learn more about the allotment of symbols, the evolution of party symbols and many more. 

Allotment of election symbols

The Central Election Commission (CEC) allots symbols to parties under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.  These symbols are either reserved or unreserved. 

  • A reserved symbol is one which is reserved for candidates of a recognized political party while remaining symbols are unreserved.

  • Different symbols are given to different candidates in a constituency. A national party has to use only the reserved symbol of that party in any election. 

  • A regional party has to use only the symbol allotted to it in any election in any constituency of the state. 

  • The commission has around hundred unreserved symbols ready. The list of unreserved symbols is circulated all over the country before the elections. 

  • In case of a split in the party, the commission is given the power to decide which group will get the party symbol & which group will have to choose one of the available symbols.

Evolution of Congress Party Symbol

  • Between 1952 and 1969, the Congress was represented by a pair of bullocks carrying a yoke. 

  • Then, when Indira Gandhi launched her own faction-INC (R) after being expelled from the party by then Congress party President S. Nijalingappa, it was represented by a new election symbol-a cow with a sucking calf. 

  • Whereas; the "Old Congress" which had the support of only a few MPs, retained the party symbol of a pair of bullocks carrying a yoke. 

  • The party's current election symbol was used by Indira Gandhi for the first time when she split from her Congress (R) faction following 1977 elections & created the new Congress (I).

Evolution of BJP Symbol

Now, coming at BJP-

  • The election symbol of the BJP also changed over the years. From 1951 to 1977, the BJP (erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh) had an oil lamp as its election symbol. 

  • In 1977, when it merged with other political parties to form Janata Party, it chose a farmer and plough symbol to represent it. 

  • After 3 years, when the Janata party dissolved and the BJP was formed, lotus was adopted as its election symbol.

Political parties and their Symbols

NATIONAL PARTY- There are a total of 6 National Parties (2023)

S.No Name Of Party Symbol
1 Aam Aadmi Party  Broom
2 Bahujan Samaj Party Elephant
3 Bhartiya Janta Party Indian Lotus
4 National People's Party Book
5 Communist Party Of India (Marxist) Hammer, Sickle And Star
6 Indian National Congress Hand


STATE PARTY- Here are a few examples

S.No Name Of Party Symbol
1 Indian National Lok Dal Spectacles
2 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Two Leaves
3 All India United Democratic Front Lock & Key
4 Shiv Sena Bow & Arrow


How many parties evolved from Congress?

The Indian National Congress (INC) is one of the country's oldest and historically significant political parties. Several parties have emerged from INC over the years. It played a pivotal role in India's struggle for independence and was the dominant party in the early years of independent India.

As many factions & leaders within the INC have split off or formed their own political parties, they have often cited differences in ideology, leadership, or regional interests as reasons for breaking away from the INC. 

Here are a few examples of parties that have emerged from the INC or have been formed by leaders who were once part of the INC:

  1. Indian National Lok Dal (INLD): Formed by Devi Lal and his supporters who split from the INC in Haryana.

  2. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP): Formed by Sharad Pawar and others who split from the INC in Maharashtra.

  3. Trinamool Congress (TMC): Mamata Banerjee and her supporters left the INC and formed the TMC in West Bengal.

  4. Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)): Founded by H. D. Deve Gowda and others who were once part of the INC in Karnataka.

  5. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS): K. Chandrashekar Rao and others formed TRS after leaving the INC to advocate for the formation of a separate Telangana state.


Over the years, the election symbols have become a powerful and recognizable part of Indian democracy, making it easier for voters to make their voices heard on election day. These associate a party with its core principles and platform, especially when there are multiple parties competing in an election.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 275 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Manager at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course). She is a patent analyst & had also done advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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