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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

the man who designed 'two leaves' - comedian Pandu is no more !

In 1951, India’s literacy rate hovered around 18 percent, and so writing the names of candidates on the ballot paper would not work. To assign ‘readers’ to navigate a printed list for voters would have been expensive and would have also compromised the rule of secrecy. So a decision was made to identify candidates and political parties by symbols. A variety of symbols, drawn from everyday Indian life and familiar to the public, were shortlisted and assigned to parties and individuals  ~ and thus was born the ‘Party symbols’!

                    Indian National Congress had two yoked oxen as its symbol. The ‘hand’ symbol, belonged to Forward Bloc (Ruikar Group)in 1951.  In 1969, when the Congress party split, the section supporting Indira Gandhi opted for the symbol of a cow and a calf. In 1977, this was changed to the hand, which is now the party symbol of Congress.   Jana Sangh, the forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party  was allotted the ‘lamp’ symbol; the banyan tree, the rising sun and the lion were some of the other symbols allotted to the Socialist Party, the Akhil Bhartiya Ram Rajya Parishad and the All India Forward Bloc (Marxist), respectively.Do you know or remember that there was a time in TN when a majority party (split at that instance) contested election on ‘cock’ and ‘two doves’ symbols…..

AIADMK is symbolized by ‘Two leaves’ – a symbol so easy to draw and promoted to fame by MG Ramachandran.

Have seen him in many movies – his trademark laughter captured many fans – he was Pallavarayan in Rajni starrer Muthu.  Actor Pandu is no more.  Pandu was successfully running a company called Capital Letters and beautifully designed nameboards of many leading film personalities' residences and offices.   His brother Idichapuli Selvaraj had also  appeared in films as a comedian.

Last time, the  two-leaves (rettai ellai) symbol of the AIADMK was locked in a two-way tussle between the two factions of the party, until the Election Commission decisively allotted it today to the EPS-OPS camp, led by AIADMK Deputy Chief Minister, O Panneerselvam and former  Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Edapaddi K Palaniswamy.  The famed ‘Two Leaves’ has a history of bestowing credibility and cementing loyalty of AIADMK’s support base. It is the direct line of continuity of AIADMK bearing the mark of the late party founder, MGR  and after that, his equally famed protege, the late J Jayalalithaa. The dispute over the symbol first took place after MGR’s death in 1987. The party was then split into two, between MGR’s wife Janaki Ramachandran and Ms J Jayalalithaa.  Recognising neither as a ‘true successor’, the EC assigned separate electoral symbols to both these groups — “two doves” to the Janaki Ramachandran faction and “cock” to Jayalalithaa’s faction. However, following Janaki’s routing from Assembly elections and the split benefiting rival DMK under M Karunanidhi, the AIADMK camps reunited behind Jayalalithaa, regaining the “two leaves” and a stable footing in one go. 

The famed symbol, along with the AIADMK Party flag, is known to be the creation of comedian and actor P Pandurangan. It is stated that Pandurangan’s design was revised four times, with suggestions from MGR himself, till the final version evolved. While thinking about an appropriate party symbol in 1977, an important strand of design inspiration came to him from a butcher’s shop visit, he told the New Indian Express. There he saw binary goat lungs on display which occurred to him as simple yet life giving organs. Turning that figure upside down, became the blueprint of the two-leaves symbol. Easy to draw and replicate, it became the enduring mark of AIADMK. 

Comedian Mr Pandu died of Covid-19 on May 6 morning at a private hospital in Chennai. He was 74. After his Covid-19 diagnosis, he was admitted to a hospital but succumbed to the illness.  He is survived by his wife Kumudha and sons, Prabhu, Panchu and Pintu. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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