Fifty-nine registered but unrecognised parties have fielded candidates for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, a state which has traditionally seen direct fights between the BJP and the Congress.
While these parties are registered with the Election Commission of India, they are not recognised as either state or national parties, as they fail to meet the criteria specified for such recognition.
As per the EC, out of 2,293 political parties in India, only seven are recognised as national parties, and 59 as state parties. These registered but unrecognised political parties have to choose from a list of free symbols issued by the poll panel.
A total 573 candidates have filed their nomination papers for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state, elections to which will be held on 23 April.
The Unkown Contestants
Among them, Hindustan Nirman Dal and Bahujan Mukti Party have fielded eight and six candidates respectively, while the Right to Recall Party and Vyavastha Parivartan Party will fight from four seats each.
The Garvi Gujarat Party, Manvadhikar National Party and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Party have fielded candidates from three seats each. Other outfits like the Gujarat Janta Panchayat Party, Rashtriya Jankranti Party are also in the fray with their candidates filling nominations for two seats each.
Yuva Sarkar Party, which has fielded its candidate on Navsari seat, believes that political parties should not give tickets to candidates over 50 years of age. The party claims power was still concentrated in the hands of elderly leaders despite over 65 population of the country being under 35 years of age.
The Indian Business Party, which claims to be a political party for India's businessmen, has fielded its candidate for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat.
Jagdeep Chhokar of the Association for Democratic Reforms, an organisation working in the area of electoral and political reforms, said,
“It is not easy to specify why such political parties contest elections. While some are serious about elections, many field candidates in the hope that someone will ask them to withdraw their candidature in their favour.”
"They don’t aspire to become anything, they just contest elections, file nominations in the hope of getting some advantage out of a serious candidate. When the contest is close, every vote counts," Chhokar added.
“Registering as political parties gives them the advantage of paying no tax on donations they receive. Out of 2,000-odd parties registered with the EC, hardly 200 contest elections. The rest are just money-making machines.”Jagdeep Chhokar, Association for Democratic Reforms
Among the recognised parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded its candidates in all 26 seats in Gujarat, while the Nationalist Congress Party will contest from Patan and Surendranagar, the Communist Party of India in Surat and the Aam Aadmi Party from Mehsana.