Namesakes, a dirty trick to confuse voters, spoiled the chances of at least two candidates in Kerala this time.
In north Kerala's Kannur constituency, sitting MP K Sudhakaran (Congress) was defeated by a margin of 6,566 votes. His two namesakes, K Sudhakaran Sreesai and K Sudhakaran Kollod, got 3,306 and 3845 votes, respectively. If the Congress candidate got these votes, he would have emerged victorious.
Similarly, in Vatakkara minister of state for home Mullapally Ramachandran scraped through with a wafer-thin majority of 3,306 votes. But his main rival AN Shamseer's (CPI-M) shadow candidate AP Shamseer garnered 3,485 votes, ensuring the CPI(M) candidate's defeat.
Elsewhere, many namesakes ate into the vote shares of original candidates. Except six, almost all other constituencies (total 20) had similar 'fake' candidates.
Such candidates have become a regular in all elections. In 2004, LS poll Congress candidate from Alapuzha VM Sudheeran (now PCC chief) was defeated by a narrow margin of 800-odd votes. But his shadow candidate VS Sudheeran had managed 8,832 votes.
IN 2009 election, HRD minister Shashi Tharoor's two fakes had managed over 8,000 votes but the former won convincingly with a margin of 100,000 votes. In crunch situations dummy candidates play a key role. In the last assembly election, at least four candidates fell by the wayside in fake candidates' surge.
Parties have no qualms in encouraging them and they blame each other for this menace. Though the state is well-educated and informed, such candidates always pocket a good number of votes confusing poor voters.
"It's a disturbing trend. These candidates are subverting the mandate. It is high time political parties and the Election Commission takes note of this," said VM Sudheeran. In 2004, when his opponents fielded VS Sudheeran, his followers were ready to field several names similar to LDF's KS Manoj. But VM Sudheeran, known for his integrity, dissuaded his followers and paid a heavy price for it. Poll officials say they are helpless and they cannot prevent anyone from contesting and that concerned parties should reach a consensus to weed out such elements.