Lok Sabha elections 2019: ‘Shadow candidates’ set to play spoilsport again in Kerala
This Lok Sabha election, Rahul Gandhi will fight Rahul Gandhi in Kerala’s Wayanad parliamentary constituency.
As the Congress president filed his nomination paper from Wayanad, two candidates with names similar to that of the Congress president also submitted their documents, in what has been seen as an attempt to confuse voters.
KE Rahul Gandhi, a research scholar from the Kerala University, and KM Sivaprasad Gandhi filed their papers on the last day to file nominations on Thursday.
There are several such candidates with similar names, or ‘shadow candidates’, contesting the general election from other Lok Sabha seats in the southern state.
In Vadakara, where Congress leader K Muralidharan is contesting, there are two other candidates bearing the same name. T Sasi is fighting against diplomat-turned-Congress politician Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram.
Such candidates are giving sleepless nights to the genuine contestants. These shadow candidates, who are out to spoil the chances of genuine ones, admit they will be supported by some parties well until the polls are over. They usually disappear after filing their papers and get enough rewards for taking the voters for a ride. Though the parties disown them publicly, they encourage them discreetly.
This has been seen in the past elections and many real candidates have fallen by the wayside in their surge.
In 2004, Congress candidate VM Sudheeran lost to his CPI(M) rival KM Manoj by a margin of 1,009 votes but VS Sudheeran had secured 8,000 votes. In 2009, CPI(M)’s Mohammad Riyaz lost to Congress’ MK Raghavan by a slender margin of 838 votes and two others with similar names had managed 4,000 votes.
Despite its high literacy rate and well-informed voters, such candidates always pocket a good number of votes in Kerala. And, parties in the state often blame each other for this menace.
“It is really disturbing. These candidates are subverting the mandate. It is high time political parties and the Election Commission take some step to contain this unhealthy practice,” Sudheeran, the former chief of the Congress’ Kerala unit, said.
In 2004 when his opponents fielded VS Sudheeran, his followers were ready to bring candidates with names similar to LDF’s KS Manoj. But VM Sudheeran, known for his integrity, dissuaded his followers and he paid a price for it.
Poll officials do admit they are helpless and cannot prevent anyone from contesting the elections.