Rama Khalkho with her election symbol, a bell, in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Incumbent Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) mayor Rama Khalkho received a bell with which she hopes to ring in voters the second time round, rival Antu Tirkey has a balloon that he says matches his soaring ambitions for the capital.
As many as 516 candidates in the fray for the civic polls — 14 for the mayoral seat and 502 for the 55 ward councillor posts — got their symbols from their respective returning officers at the district collectorate, Kutchery, on Friday.
The set of around 30 symbols conceived by Ranchi district electoral officer-cum deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey and distributed to candidates by returning officers — 11 for aspirants of 55 wards and one for mayoral contestants — appears to have pleased everyone.
The symbol graphics range from butcher’s knife to balloon, gas cylinder to palanquin, cricket bat to cot, aeroplane to frock, brick to basket.
Every mayoral aspirant got a different symbol. In case of ward councillors, as there are 502 aspirants and 30 symbols, authorities thought of an effective way to prevent overlap. Every contestant of a ward got a different symbol. But aspirants of different wards shared the same visual graphic.
After Friday, campaigning will step up several notches as contestants will brandish their symbols and urge the electorate to vote on it.
Soon after symbols were allotted, candidates posed before the media like seasoned politicians.
“Balloon! It files high in the sky. Just like this, I will ensure that Ranchi achieves new heights in civic amenities and development,” Antu Tirkey, mayoral candidate backed by JMM, grinned, going around the collectorate building with a set of three balloons.
Two of them burst, but Tirkey’s mood did not.
His rival Khalkho desperately waited for a real bell, standing with her supporters near the building entrance.
“I will go around with a bell to ask for votes on the merit of my work. I have worked hard during the last five years and am sure of my return to office,” Khalkho told The Telegraph.
Even before symbols were distributed, the collectorate building was flooded with budding politicians and supporters, some sporting garlands.
The most amusing part was the way aspirants found logic behind symbols.
“I want to clean up corrupt practices at the civic body, which is why I got the basket as my symbol,” said activist-turned-politician and mayoral aspirant Durga Oraon gleefully. He put a basket on his head and went around meeting people in and around the collectorate.
“Every girl wants to go to her husband’s home on a palanquin. It is a very holy thing and will appeal to the emotions of my voters,” said Pushpa Devi, councillor aspirant for ward No. 41 (Doranda area).