Lok Sabha elections 2019: Candidates who file nominations but don’t have to contest
A substitute or a covering candidate is fielded by every major political party as a backup in case the candidature of the main nominee is rejected after scrutiny by the election officers or if the candidate dies.Updated: Apr 25, 2019 09:08 IST
Vikram Bidhuri, the substitute candidate for BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri in South Delhi, spent some restless hours on Wednesday when party workers asked him to be ready “to possibly fight the elections” after his uncle Ramesh’s candidature was challenged in the election office.
“Around 3pm, it struck me what if I had to contest the election?” he said with a loud laughter. “Though, on a serious note, we were 99.99% sure that nothing would happen. But still, who knows about the 0.01%,” he added with a slightly mellow laugh.
A substitute or a covering candidate is fielded by every major political party as a backup in case the candidature of the main nominee is rejected after scrutiny by the election officers or if the candidate dies.
The candidature of the backups last only till the last date of withdrawal of nominations. “When the nomination of the main candidate gets approved by the election office, the affidavit of the substitute is automatically declared null and void. Some parties also field such backups as ‘independent’ candidates in constituencies where there is a neck and neck fight,” said a senior official in the Delhi election office.
Candidates choose family members, friends or party workers as their substitutes. BJP candidate from New Delhi Meenakshi Lekhi said she has never chosen a family member or a friend for the role. “I feel it is unfair to field people from my family or friend circle because there are a lot of dedicated and hard working party workers who deserve it more,” she said.
Radhey Shyam Sharma, Lekhi’s covering candidate, has been a BJP worker for over three decades. “It was only a night before Lekhi ji was to file her nomination that I was asked to prepare as her covering candidate. I am co-incharge for the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat. So, I have already been working on ground for months,” he said. Sharma has been a councillor from Vasant Vihar and the standing committee chairperson of South MCD.
However, BJP’s Chandni Chowk candidate Harsh Vardhan, former Delhi CM and Congress’ North East Delhi candidate Sheila Dikshit and Rajesh Lilothia, Congress nominee from North West Delhi have no substitute candidates.
“We have fought so many elections that by now, we know the process. All the documents are in order and we get them vetted by our legal team,” said Lilothia.
Tarishi Sharma, 26, a graduate from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College, joined Atishi, AAP’s candidate from East Delhi, in 2017 for a short-term internship in the Delhi government. But she decided to forgo her admission to Oxford University to continue to work with her “role model”. She is Atishi’s covering candidate.
Though Tarishi is a covering candidate, she has no plans to join politics. “I always wanted to be involved in governance, not in politics. I realise that the two are inseparable, but I don’t intend to be in politics,” said Tarishi.
For AAP’s South Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha, it is his mother Alka Chadha, 57. Congress’ West Delhi candidate Mahabal Mishra has made his son Vinay Mishra as his substitute. Vinay, however, says he is not just his father’s backup but his “backbone”.
“I was in class 9 when my father first contested the elections and since then I have campaigned for him,” said Vinay, 36.
Many like Congress’s Chandni Chowk candidate JP Agarwal, party’s New Delhi candidate Ajay Maken, East Delhi candidate Arvinder Singh Lovely and BJP’s West Delhi nominee Parvesh Verma turned to their wives — who they described as “the woman behind their success”.