Haathi or Haath, the story behind congress's election symbol
Congress started with a pair
of bullocks and a plough as their election symbol during first election in
After Indira Gandhi broke
away from the Congress in 1967, she chose a calf and a cow as the symbol of her
faction. She won a landslide victory
in the 1971 elections with this symbol.
Now, this new congress/government was in
the control of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and her son, and opposition parties started criticizing
the symbol as the real state of the congress: Indira as Cow, and Sanjay as
Calf. Thus, Indira decided to look for an alternative election symbol.
After the emergency of mid
1970s, Indira finally opted for fresh elections in 1977. So, Indira had decided
to discard that symbol and later come up with a new one this time.
They went to the Election
Symbol just two days before the deadline, the task was assigned to Buta Singh,
and he came up with the three options: Elephant (haathi) , Bicycle, and Open
palm (haath). EC had insisted Buta to
select the symbol by the next morning, failing which, the party would have to
contest without a symbol.
Indira was out in Vijayawada, with Narasimha Rao, when Buta was
asked by the Election Commission to pick an election symbol. Buta was not sure which
symbol he should choose, so he booked a trunk call to seek Indira's
approval," says author Rasheed Kidwai in his book, 24 Akbar Road. He was
the AICC general secretary then."The line was not very clear or, perhaps, Buta's Hindi
pronunciation was so thick that Indira kept hearing haathi (elephant), instead
of haath (hand)."She kept saying
no to it even as Buta kept trying to explain that it was not the elephant, but
the open palm symbol that he was advising her to pick."The comedy of errors continued till an
exasperated Indira handed the telephone over to Rao. In a matter of seconds,
Rao, master of more than a dozen Indian and foreign languages, understood what
Buta was trying to convey. He shouted, "Buta Singhji, panja kahiye, panja'
Indira was relieved, took the receiver and said, Haan, haan, panja theek rahega
(yes, yes, the open palm symbol will be appropriate).'