During election season, the most sought after people, besides voters, are dummy candidates. This holds true especially in the case of Kerala, as the state has a long history of dealing with dummy candidates trying to eat into the votes of prominent leaders from both the fronts.
Once the candidates list is confirmed, in an attempt to confuse voters, every party goes out hunting for dummy candidates, who usually have similar names as official candidates. However, the shadow candidates are mostly fielded as independents and are often given an election symbol similar to that of the well-known candidate.
Among the tales of trouble caused by the dummy candidates, the story of VM Sudheeran is the most important one.
The 2004 Lok Sabha elections is still a nightmare for KPCC President VM Sudheeran. The Alappuzha constituency, from where VM Sudheeran contested the 2004 general election, saw a dummy candidate with a similar name- VS Sudheeran- contesting the polls. When the votes were counted, the namesake got a total of 8,281 votes and VM Sudheeran lost the elections to Dr KS Manoj by a margin of 1009 votes.
This time, however, Sudheeran said that he would withdraw his nomination, if dummy candidates are fielded from his constituency. This clearly shows that the Congress strongman is still not over the 2004 fiasco.
This phenomenon did not stop with 2004 elections. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the same scenario played out in the Kozhikode constituency.
However, there is a small difference in the Kozhikode story. In place of one dummy candidate, there were a total of three shadow candidates for CPI (M) candidate Advocate P A Mohamed Riyas. K Mohammed Riyas, P Mohammed Riyas and P A Mohammad Riyas-the three dummy candidates, managed to get a total of 4000 votes in their favour, and the official candidate Rias lost the elections to Congress candidate M K Raghavan for 838 votes.
Moreover, in the same elections, the UDF candidate from the Palakkad segment, Satheeshan Pacheni lost the elections to LDF candidate MB Rajesh by 1820 votes, while his dummy candidate- EV Satheesan, got 5478 votes in total.
Fortunately for Dr Shashi Tharoor, he won in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in 2009, by a margin of 10,000 votes, while his two fakes managed to garner around 8000 votes.
The 2006 Assembly elections saw late G Karthikeyan change his name to G Karthikeyan Aryanad, fearing competition from two dummy candidates.
In the 2011, Assembly elections, Health minister VS Sivakumar had two dummy candidates in the name of N Sivakumar and S Sivakumar. In Harippad, there was a dummy candidate named Ramesh, trying to divide the votes of Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala.
The 2014 general election was no different either. In the Kollam constituency, UDF candidate N K Premachandran â€˜s dummy candidate V S Premachandran, not just had a similar name, but he also took up a similar symbol for the election.
N K Premachandran
Kannurâ€™s then sitting MP K Sudhakaran was defeated by a margin of 6,566 votes and his two dummies- K Sudhakaran Sreesai and K Sudhakaran Kollod got 3,306 and 3,845 votes respectively.
Also, in the 2014 elections, most of the Congress dummy candidates opted for the shuttlecock as their symbol and CPI (M) dummy candidates chose a ring.
Candidates across party lines have spoken up against the use of dummy candidates in elections. The Election Commission has in the past also tried its luck in curbing this menace- names of dummy candidates were put towards the end of the list on the voting machine, and house names and surnames of the dummy candidates were also added.
However, the practice of confusing voters will soon be a thing of the past as the EC has now decided to put the picture of the candidates, along with their names and symbol, in the panel of the voting machine. This would definitely help in reducing the division of votes between official candidate and dummy candidates.
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