In the 2016 Kerala Assembly election, BJP state president K Surendran lost in Manjeshwar by just 89 votes. Surendran’s opponent, incidentally, shared a very similar name, K Sundara. The then Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate got more than 400 votes. The BJP was sure that hundreds of votes for Surendran went to Sundara due to the similarity of their names. This time, too, both K Surendran and K Sundara decided to contest from Manjeshwar, but the latter withdrew his nomination. While some party workers alleged that BJP workers threatened Sundara, he said that Surendran had called him directly, requesting him to withdraw the nomination.
Similarly, in the 2004 Lok Sabha Election, Congress veteran VM Sudheeran lost by 1,009 votes to LDF's KS Manoj from the Alappuzha constituency. But the ballot featured his namesake — VS Sudheeran, who had filed his nomination as an independent. VS Sudheeran, who was not active in politics, bagged 8,332 votes. In the 2019 bye-polls in Ernakulam, Congress-led UDF's TJ Vinod won by a margin of 3,570 votes, while LDF’s independent candidate KM Manu polled second. But, interestingly, KM Manu’s namesake, Manu Roy, secured 2,572 votes.
These are a few instances in the history of Kerala politics, where identical names and namesakes may have dashed a candidate’s chances of winning or increasing vote share in a constituency. The upcoming Kerala Assembly election on April 6, too, will see some namesakes in some constituencies. In fact, barring a few constituencies, almost all prominent candidates in every district have namesakes this time.
Incidentally, political parties generally field such namesakes when they perceive that an opponent-candidate could be a threat to their victory. The namesakes will either be independent candidates or lesser-known parties.
Here are some examples of such namesakes voters are likely to encounter on the electronic voting machine (EVMs).
Left Democratic Front’s independent candidate Shaji George added a suffix to his name to avoid likely confusion due to his namesake in the constituency — Shaji George. Considering the past instances, the LDF candidate changed his electoral name to Shaji George Pranatha, suffixing the name of his publishing company to his own name.
KK Rema of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP), who is supported by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) from Vadakkar, is probably the only candidate with three namesakes — KTK Rema, Rema KK and Rema. All three are reportedly independent candidates. RMP’s KK Rema had two namesakes as rivals in 2016.
LDF’s Koyilandy candidate Kanathil Jameela’s namesake is Jameela PP. In the same constituency, UDF candidate N Subrahmanian has a rival with the same name, Subrahmanian.
In Kuttiadi, LDF candidate KP Kunhammed Kutty’s namesake and rival is KK Kunhammed Kutty.
Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)'s MK Muneer, the UDF candidate from Koduvally, has two namesake rivals — MK Muneer and Abdul Muneer K.
Praveen Kumar, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) secretary and UDF candidate in Nadapuram, has Praveen Kumar as the namesake.
Kerala Students Union (KSU) president KM Abhijith, the UDF candidate from Kozhikode, will fight N Abhijith.
PA Mohammed Riyas, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) national president and the LDF candidate from Beypore, will face his rival, Mohammed Riyas.
Thiruvananthapuram LDF candidate Antony Raju has to deal with two namesakes — Antony Raju and Raju Antony. BJP candidate K Krishna Kumar of Thiruvananthapuram will fight TS Krishnakumar, who has cauliflower as his symbol.
In Nemom, a key constituency, BJP candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan’s namesake is Rajasekharan, while UDF’s K Muraleedharan has to face off against Muraleedharan Nair.