Explaining the significance of candidates contesting from two seats in Lok Sabha
Fighting simultaneously from two seats is not a new trend; influential leaders have been using this tactic since the early days of independence.
Much is being said about Rahul Gandhi contesting the Lok Sabha elections from two seats, namely Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, which is in North India and possibly Wayanad in Kerala, located in South India.
But what is the need for any leader to contest simultaneously from more than one seat?
There could be two possible explanations for this conundrum. One, a leader contests from two seats to increase the appeal of his/her party in that area. Of these two seats, one is usually a candidate’s traditional bastion, and the other seat is where the candidate wants his or her party to grow.
For example, in 2014, the BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi decided to contest from two seats. One was from his home turf in Vadodara and the other was in Varanasi. Varanasi was important because Uttar Pradesh sends a whopping 80 MPs to Parliament. And the result was clear. The BJP won 71 seats in UP which ultimately helped one single party to form a majority in the Lok Sabha, after nearly 30 years.
This time too, the Congress party knows that other than the Hindu heartland, the southern regions of India can help the party improve its tally in the Lok Sabha.
The other reason why a leader chooses to contest from two seats is when a big leader feels threatened in his bastion and desperately wants to enter the Lok Sabha.
In the last general elections, the BJP candidate from Amethi, Smriti Irani lost to Rahul Gandhi despite putting up a spirited fight. Rahul’s vote share dipped from 71 percent to 46 percent whereas the BJP, which generally remains in single digits, got 37 percent of votes.
Increasing the BJP’s footprint in Congress bastions could be another reason forcing Rahul Gandhi to look for another safe seat. Fighting simultaneously from two seats is not a new trend; influential leaders have been using this tactic since the early days of independence.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 1957 Lok Sabha elections, contested elections on the Bharatiya Jana Sangh ticket from three seats, namely Lucknow, Balrampur, and Mathura. He contested from Vidisha and Lucknow in 1991. Indira Gandhi in 1980 contested the elections from Medak and Rae Bareli.
L K Advani in 1991 contested from New Delhi and Gandhinagar. Sonia Gandhi also contested from two seats in 1999, from Bellary and Amethi. Many other leaders including Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Haryana leader Devi Lal have also done this.
The candidates were allowed to contest on multiple seats until 1996, when Representation of the People Act, 1951, was amended to restrict this number to two.
According to Section 33 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person can contest on multiple seats whereas section 70 of the same act prevents the winner from holding more than one seat. That is, if a person wins on both seats, he or she will have to resign, and the by-polls will be held again to fill the vacated seat.
The Election commission has time and again raised the issue of increased expenditure and extra manpower in the case of necessitated by-elections when a candidate leaves his or her seat. But the government has been reluctant to implement this recommendation as of now.