What’s in a name? A lot if an election is at stake and you have three other people with the same name standing up against you. And that’s the case for Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who filed his nomination from Varanasi on Thursday. Modi is facing 77 rivals, including three other Narendras.
Besides Modi, Tulsi Shubramaniam Joshi has also filed nomination papers as a BJP nominee covering for the Gujarat chief minister, which takes the total number of candidates contesting the Varanasi seat to 79. It is a common practice among political parties to make two individuals submit papers to ensure that there is a covering candidate in case one of the nominations is rejected. While the last date of nomination was yesterday, names can be withdrawn till April 28.
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While Narendra Nath Dubey Adig represents the Jan Shakti Ekta Party, Narendra Bahadur Singh is contesting as Manav Kalyan Munch candidate. Another independent contestant goes by his first name Narendra.
A majority of the contestants are from little known political parties. Such entities include Agar Jan Party, Moulik Adhikar Party, Rastriya Insaaf Party, Gandhi Ekta Party, All India Pichhada Jan Samaj Party, Shoshit Samaj Dal, Sarva Samaj Kalyan Party, Nirmal India Party, Rashtriya Janwadi Party (Krantikari) and Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party.
About 39 independent candidates have filed their nomination papers. Out of them, some along with their family members have assets worth crores of rupees, according to their affidavits submitted to the Election Commission. Transgender Baseer Kinnar (50), has also filed nomination from this temple town.
While the EC is yet to scrutinise the nomination papers, the 79 candidates mean that Electronic Voting Machines cannot be used in the constituency, as EVMs can cater to a maximum of 66 candidates. ‘In case the number of contesting candidates goes beyond 66 in any constituency, EVMs cannot be used in such a constituency. The conventional method of voting by means of ballot box and ballot paper will have to be adopted in such a constituency,’ according to norms of the Commission.
Image: Narendra Modi flashes the victory sign during a roadshow in Varanasi before he filed his nomination. Photograph: Sandeep Pal