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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 1952.

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).'  

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