In Vadakara, RMP’s KK Rema faces three dummy candidates with similar names

Out of the nine candidates contesting from Vadakara, three of their names are Rama, the dummy candidates fielded by KK Rema’s rivals.
K.K. Rema
K.K. Rema
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Those going to vote from Vadakara constituency in Kerala’s Kozhikode during the upcoming Assembly polls, would have to take a close look at the ballot machine before hitting the poll button, especially if they are backing Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP)’s candidate KK Rema. Out of the nine candidates contesting from Vadakara, three of their names are Rama -- a name sounding similar to Rema in Malayalam -- the dummy candidates fielded by KK Rema’s rivals.

This time, though the number of her political rivals has reduced with UDF publicly expressing support to RMP by not fielding its party candidate in Vadakara, the problem of dummy candidates has only increased. Nomination of three Rama’s – Rama Cheriyakayyil, Rama Kuniyil and KTK Rama Padannayil - all contesting as independent candidates, has been accepted.

Talking to TNM, Rema, who is also the wife of slain RMP leader TP Chandrasekharan, says CPI(M) is behind fielding dummy candidates. “This clearly shows CPI(M) has still not come out of its politics of revenge. There is no doubt that they are behind this. Elections are supposed to be democratic.” However, she adds that there is no concern as RMP is doing good work on the ground to avoid confusion among the people.

In the 2016 polls, the first Assembly polls held after the murder of TP Chandrasekharan, when Rema contested for the RMP, she had to similarly face dummy candidates, two women named Rema and Rama. Though she did not win the polls and LDF backed CK Nanu of the Janata Dal (Secular) secured the seat, she came third, pushing the BJP down, garnering 20,504 votes. Her two rivals could only manage to secure a total of 590 votes.

Vadakara is one of the keenly watched Assembly constituencies in the state. And with KK Rema in the poll battle, Vadakara is much in focus. This time, KK Rema is contesting with Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF)’s public support. In this upcoming polls, KK Rema's main rivals are Manyath Chandran of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, which is part of CPI(M)-led LDF (Left Democratic Front) and Advocate M Rajesh Kumar of the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance).

Notably, there have been instances in the past when candidates have even lost polls due to the votes garnered by dummy candidates. One example is the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when the former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President VM Sudheeran contested from Alappuzha constituency and lost by a mere 1,009 votes. A dummy candidate in the name VS Sudheeran got a total of 8,281 votes.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, PA Mohammed Riyas of the CPI(M) (who is now married to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter), contested from Kozhikode and lost to the Congress candidate by just 838 votes. Three namesakes fielded against him managed to get a total of 4,000 votes.

However, there are also instances when politicians have won by a clear margin despite the presence of multiple namesake candidates. Shashi Tharoor, who contested from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency in 2009, fought against two dummy candidates and won by a margin of 10,000 votes. The two dummy candidates managed to secure 8,000 votes. 

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