Contesting the Bihar Polls? Dummy Candidates Beware
If you’re contesting the Bihar elections, say cheese.
Photographs of all candidates will be placed next to their name and party symbol to prevent confusion among voters when one or more proxy candidates are raised from a single constituency.
No More Cheating By Proxy
This move denies political parties one of their favourite dirty tricks. Often, dummy candidates with names identical to a strong candidate are put up by opposition parties to confuse the voter.
The Curious Case of 11 Chandu Lal Sahus
Not that putting up a dummy candidate works, as Congress leader Ajit Jogi famously found out in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Jogi, who was facing the more-fancied Chandu Lal Sahu of the BJP in the Mahasamund constituency, contrived to put up 10 other dummy candidates - all of them bearing the name Chandu Lal Sahu.
Till 7 PM on counting day, Ajit Jogi was leading by 200 votes. At the end of the day though he had lost, by about 1000 votes.
Seeta Aur Geeta
It happened to the inimitable Hema Malini too in Mathura, with two dummy candidates bearing the same name. While one of them withdrew from the contest, the other, a housewife, lost and ‘Dreamgirl’ breezed through by a massive margin of 3,30,743 against the incumbent Jayant Chaudhary, son of RLD Chief and former Union Minister Ajit Singh.
Torch or Broom?
Journalist Jarnail Singh, who gained notoriety for hurling a shoe at former Finance Minister P Chidambaram found himself facing two doppelgangers at the voting booth as the AAP candidate.
In this case, one of the Jarnail Singhs also had a symbol that looked suspiciously like the AAP’s broom. Singh ended up losing the 2014 general election as the candidate from West Delhi but a year later, won an Assembly seat to become an MLA.
Clearly, dummy candidates can swing elections that depend on narrow margin victories and despite several complaints, the Election Commission did not take the matter seriously. Until the Supreme Court directed it to do so.
So now the Bihar State Assembly election will be the first big election to identify candidates with a party symbol and photograph. Time for political parties to dig into their bag of dirty tricks for another dubious strategy.