Alappuzha: When even Rahul Gandhi is battling it out with Raghul Gandhi besides a candidate carrying the Congress president’s real name in Wayanad, the namesake menace is absent in their Mecca this time.
As per the final list, 12 candidates including three independents with different names are in the fray here, and none of them is a namesake. The ballot sheets also carry photographs of candidates to avoid confusion.
Namesakes used to give a headache causing sleepless nights for mainstream parties in Alappuzha after its success 15 years back. In 2014, there were four of them.
In 2004, Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran lost to Dr K.S. Manoj of CPM by a margin of 1,009 votes, when V.S. Sudheeran walked away with 8,282 votes.
He has not since dared to fight an election, even though his name was in the reckoning this time as well.
For the other Sudheeran, ‘it was unbelievable’ as he even had not voted for him, but his party candidate Dr Manoj, who also took a political turn and landed in the Congress camp.
He got so much publicity, while the ethics of ‘namesake’ politics became a point of hot debate across the state.
Perhaps this incident might have become a reason for the election authorities to come up with photograph-printed ballot sheets.
In a quick response after his defeat, Mr Sudheeran had said: “I am a victim of the others.”
“More often namesakes are brought into the fray by vested interests deliberately to mislead the people. Some legal mechanism should be there to curb this problem. Otherwise, the will of the people would get sabotaged by the presence of ‘others’.”
However, since 2004, political rivals were seen fielding namesakes extensively to take on their opponents.
For instance, in 2009, Kottayam Lok Sabha constituency witnessed five ‘Suresh Kurups’ and two ‘Jose Manis’, one of them a taxi driver from Delhi flow in to file in his nomination papers but had to concede victory to Jose K. Mani.
Also in 2004, P.M. Ismail, the CPM candidate in the erstwhile Muvattupuzha, tasted defeat in a strong triangular fight.
P.C. Thomas of the now defunct Indian Federal Democratic Party won by a thin margin of 529 votes when A.M. Ismail cornered 2,220 votes and P.A. Ismayil 1,246 votes and Ismail Hassan Kani the same number of votes.
But P.C. Thomas scraped through the trap of the opponents who fielded two other candidates by the same name who together pocketed 5,189 votes.
In 1980, Kerala Congers (M) candidate George J. Mathew who contested from Muvattupuzha on horse symbol had to concede defeat with his namesake N.V. George played spoilsport securing more than 11,000 votes.
The symbol of N.V. George was “camel” that confused people, helping to emerge himself as a giant killer.
There are also candidates like Dr Shashi Tharoor who ensures his party do not indulge in such dirty games.
But he faces a Sasi T. this time in the state capital.
Electronic voting machines and postal ballot papers would carry images of all candidates to help voters identify their candidates now. For this purpose, the returning officers have collected their recent stamp size photographs as per the specifications....