In 2016, the Election Commission, which has the mandate to hold elections for the Rajya Sabha, announced that a specially manufactured violet sketch pen will be given to voters for the polls.
The special pen with violet ink was introduced following the so-called “ink controversy” that erupted in Haryana after 12 votes cast with markings in the wrong ink were declared invalid.
These 12 votes were of Congress legislators, and led to the defeat of party-backed independent candidate and lawyer RK Anand, who lost to Subhash Chandra, backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Two more votes were declared invalid as the ballot was unmarked in one and Randeep Singh Surjewala’s vote was rejected as he showed his vote to another legislator, Kiran Chaudhary.
The development stoked a political furore and the Congress and the INLD had asked the Election Commission to countermand the election to both Rajya Sabha seats.
After a working group of senior officials suggested ways to prevent a repeat of the ink fiasco in future Rajya Sabha polls, the Election Commission made it mandatory for all voters to use only the pen provided by polling officials. Votes marked in any other colour are deemed invalid.
Since then the Election Commission provides the pens with violet ink, and these are kept inside voting booths and voters are not allowed to remove them.