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Elections 2014: Namesakes of candidates aim to fool voters

In a bid to rattle key contestants in the Lok Sabha polls, these candidates enter the fray to confuse voters who might mistakenly select their name on the EVM  

With increasing number of independents in the fray for the Lok Sabha polls, the namesakes of key candidates of major political parties in various constituencies is causing concern for the latter, besides having the potential to confuse voters as well.


Confusion: Congress  politician Captain Amarinder Singh (r) faces a confusing challenge in Amritsar with his namesake contesting on an Independent ticket

Confusing voters
Though the ballot unit will have the party symbol against the contestants’ names, candidates are concerned about identical names or near-identical names confusing the voters. This is likely to be more perplexing in rural areas.

Far from a coincidence, these "dummy" candidates are using an age-old trick in Indian politics designed to fool voters who might mistakenly select the wrong person once inside the polling booth.

Political parties often scout for namesakes and then fund their election expenses in order to pit them against rivals in constituencies where a few hundred votes could swing the result. The unknown candidate is given his or her party symbol, which is usually designed to look like the one used by the more famous rival.

Although it’s not illegal, of late the Election Commission has been trying to keep a tab on these dubious contestants.
Though these candidates are not likely to tilt the scale, change the imminent victory or defeat of a candidate, in a multi-cornered contest, official party nominees are still worried as the winning or losing margins are likely to be a very slender one in this Lok Sabha election.

Game of names

Namesakes worrying key candidates in the polls

Constituency Candidate Namesake
Mathura Hema Malini (BJP) Hema Malini (IND)
Amritsar Amarinder Singh (INC) Amarinder Singh (IND)
Chennai South L A Ganesan (BJP) S Ganesan (SUCI)
Arakkonam R Rajesh (INC) S Rajesh (AAP)
Bhatinda Manpreet Singh (INC) Manpreet Singh (IND)
Kasargod T Siddique (INC) A Siddiq (IND)
Alappuzha C B Chandrababu (CPI) G Chandrababu (IND)
Banka Sanjay Kumar (CPI) Sanjay Kumar (BSP)

Modi v/s Modi
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi faced a similar challenge in his Gujarat constituency of Vadodara from another Narendra Babulal Modi who is a member of the Congress party. The candidate, however, pulled out fearing reprisals.

Did you know?
The Election Commission had increased the deposit amount per candidate from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000 in 1998 and subsequently to Rs 25,000 to discourage non-serious candidates in the race. But it does not seem to have  deterrent effect the EC intended to have over the last two general elections

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