(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) the candidate line-up emerging after closure of filing of nomination papers for the april 10 lok sabha elections in kerala is blurred by the presence of many independents with names identical to the candidates fielded by major political fronts
The ‘namesake’ menace that led to the defeat of several prominent candidates in the past polls is posing threat to key contestants in 16 of the 20 constituencies. the constituencies free of the menace are ernakulam chalakkudy kottayam and trichur.
P karunakaran of the communist party of india (marxist) who is locked in a tight triangular contest to retain the kasargod seat that he won in 2009 by a margin of 64427 votes is haunted most by the namesakes. apart from the two formidable congress and bharatiya janata party (bjp) rivals he also has to fight two namesakes. while one has exactly his same name the other is without the initial.
The maximum number of namesakes present in the fray is at ponnani. four independents with similar name are troubling v abdurahman an independent candidate backed by the cpm. a local congress leader abdurahman was picked up by the party to end the muslim league stranglehold over the seat. four raghavans have entered the fray in calicut where the names of both the congress and cpm candidates contain raghavan. c b chandrababu cpm candidate at aleppey has two independents with similar names while his congress rival k c venugopal has one with identical name.
Chengara surendran the cpi candidate at mavelikkara and his counterpart at trivandrum dr bennet abraham have also one namesake each. o rajagpal who is the major hope of the bjp has also a namesake to rob his votes in trivandrum.
The namesake menace worries the parties since this causes confusion among the voters. there are instances of candidates with the same name or similar names polling more votes than the number of votes by which they have lost.
The defeat of p.m. ismail the cpm candidate in muvattupuzha constituency in 2004 is a glaring instance. in a triangular contest he lost to pc thomas of the national democratic alliance (nda) by 529 votes. he felt he would have won the election if his namesakes had not garnered 3466 votes.
V m sudheeran is another prominent victim of a namesake who polled 8000 votes in the 2004 elections at aleppey. he lost the election by just over 1000 votes. a total of 11000 votes secured by his namesake were considered crucial in the defeat of george j. mathew of kerala congress (m) at muvattupuzha in the 1980 elections.
Namesakes enter the fray themselves or are fielded by parties to hoodwink voters. even though the voters in kerala are mostly discerning all major parties encourage the practice to benefit their candidate especially in constituencies where the victory margin is usually slender.
With the practice started affecting all parties some have come out against it. sudheeran who is currently president of the kerala pradesh congress committee terms it as “undemocratic” and “unethical”. he has urged the election commission to ban the practice.
The namesakes have also been contributing to escalation in the number of contestants. the nominations this time has saw an increase of 72 candidates. the total number of nominations for the 20 seats for the april 10 election is 396 as against 324 in 2009.
The maximum number is in trivandrum where 25 candidates have filed the nominations. the least number (15) is at kottayam and alathur. the number of candidates may come down after the withdrawal of nominations since the major parties have fielded dummies. the final line-up in the 2009 elections comprised 217 candidates. this included 102 candidates.
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