Blooming lotus creates headache for Indian election officials

Candidate says abundance of flower-covered ponds provides advantage for rivals as lotus is their symbol


Officials overseeing elections in India have grown used over the years to politicians trying their best to secure even the slightest edge and to deny any such thing to their rivals.

But election officials in Madhya Pradesh have responded with incredulity after a local politician requested the authorities cover over the state's lotus ponds, claiming his rivals were getting an advantage in an upcoming election because the other party's symbol is the lotus flower.

Earlier this week, members of the Congress Party, the symbol of which is the hand, wrote to election officials saying the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the symbol of which is the lotus, was benefiting from the recent blooming of lotus flowers in certain parts of the state. It asked that workers be dispatched to cover up the flowers.

"Since the BJP came to power in Madhya Pradesh, the number of lotus flowers in this area has doubled," Amar Chand Bawaria, a Congress politician, told The Independent. "It's being used to the BJP's advantage."

The unlikely request comes as the India prepares for five state elections due to be held before the end of the year and which are being seen as an indicator of the way the country might vote in next year's parliamentary elections. The campaign is becoming increasingly bitter.

Nationally, the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, are looking to dislodge the ruling Congress party-led coalition. But in the central state of Madhya Pradesh the situation is reversed and the Congress is looking to oust the BJP, which currently controls the state machinery.

The BJP has laughed at Mr Bawaria's request, claiming it shows the Congress is not serious about challenging in Madhya Pradesh, part of India's so-called "Hindi heartland".

Vishwas Sarang, a BJP member of the the Madhya Pradesh assembly, said: "This is foolish activity - it's kids' stuff. There is no need to cover  up natural things. If they are talking about covering the lotus flowers, does that also mean they should cover up everybody's hands?"

As unlikely as Mr Bawaria's suggestion may sound, there is a recent precedent which may have led him to believe the authorities might act.

In January 2012, officials in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh ordered the covering of around 200 statues of politician Mayawati and her party's symbol, the elephant, ahead of a local poll.

Officials decided that Ms Mayawati's Bahujan Samajwadi Party would have received an unfair advantage and so ordered the statues to be covered with more than one mile of pink plastic wrapping. At one point, officials had to send for extra supplies after running out.

But in Madhya Pradesh this case, it appears the Congress is not going to get its way and a meeting of election officials in the city of Bhopal decided to reject the request.

Akshay Rout, a senior official with the Election Commission of India said he had never before heard of a request to cover a lotus pond.

"There were certain suggestions that came before the commission," he said. "But I can clarify that we are not doing anything of this sort."

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little