KOCHI: Senior Congress leader VM Sudheeran knows better than any one how a namesake can cause a poll debacle. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Sudheeran lost to CPM’s KS Manoj by 1,009 votes, while his namesake VS Sudheeran polled 8,281 votes.
This general elections too, putting up namesake candidates against prominent political leaders will be a major strategy by political parties to beat the opponents. While it will be quite a task to find names akin to a few prominent candidates having unique surnames, it will be easy to find people with names similar to a few candidates having common names. Political experts say the unhealthy practice of fielding dummy candidates against political opponents undermines the democratic process.
“If we look at the election history, dummy candidates have scuttled the prospects of many a prominent leader. This unhealthy practice, in fact, is an exploitation of a candidate’s right to contest elections from a place of his/her choice,” said political observer NM Pearson. Party insiders admit the challenge is getting a right dummy candidates. But if they find one, the strategy has always paid rich dividend. “We field dummy candidates in constituencies where the opposition camp has high chance of victory.
If we manage to eat into the votes of winnable candidate, we stand a better chance to win the seat,” said a veteran leader. An analysis of the contests, where dummy candidates really made an impact on the chances of prominent candidates, revealed that whenever a namesake candidate had secured more than 3,000 to 4,000 votes, the real candidate lost by a wafer-thin margin.
In the 2009 LS elections, CPM’s PA Mohamed Riyas lost to UDF’s MK Raghavan in Kozhikode by a margin of 838 votes after three namesake candidates - K Mohammed Riyas, P Mohammed Riyas and PA Mohammad Riyas - managed to carve out a total of 4,000 votes. In Palakkad consituency, UDF candidate Satheeshan Pacheni lost to LDF candidate MB Rajesh by 1,820 votes after a dummy candidate EV Satheesan got 5,478 votes.