Independents plough a lonely furrow in election field (Election Special)

New Delhi, April 6: Jaswant Singh, the BJP stalwart whom the party expelled, might be one of the more famous independent candidates contesting this general election, but there are numerous others who are in the polling arena to prove their mettle without any backing from a political party.

The reasons why they are contesting vary from the fact of not having got a ticket from their chosen party to trying to establish a political foothold in their area or, simply, to prove their worth.

Take the case of Kamini Kaur, an independent candidate from the northwest Delhi constituency. A BJP worker for the last 15 years, Kaur, who runs at least three fitness centres in the area sought a ticket from the party this time and when denied, decided to contest as an independent.

“I have been a social worker for so many years. I desperately wanted to enter the fray this time, but was denied ticket by the BJP as well as the Aam Admi Party (AAP) hence I decided to file nomination as an independent,” Kaur, 52, told IANS.

For 39-year old Ashutosh Mudgil, independent candidate from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk constituency, fighting for the Lok Sabha election was a conscious decision to get a presence in his locality.

“Though I know the Lok Sabha election are a little big for me, by being pitted against big names like Kapil Sibal and Harsh Vardhan, I am ensuring my place in the public mind and will fight other elections later,” he said.

For others like Kumar Vivek Gautam, a candidate from east Delhi, fighting election is a way of getting his organization recognition.

“We have launched an organization called ‘Jan Hit Kranti’ and have applied for registration. I am fighting polls to ensure that it gets prominence,” he said.

Though, there are no figures for the number of independent candidates in the fry as nominations are still being filed by candidates across the country for the over one-month long general election, in Delhi alone there are 66 candidates, who are trying their luck as an independent candidate.

Examples are also galore from across the country on how independents are taking up cudgels against established political parties.

Jaswant Singh decided to contest as an independent after the BJP refused to give him a ticket from Rajasthan’s Barmer, the constituency of his choice.

“There is an overwhelming support for me in Barmer. Never before have I seen such public enthusiasm,” Singh said.

Actor and TV reality show star Kamaal R. Khan is in fray as an independent from north west Mumbai after quitting the Samajwadi Party.

The Samajwadi Party had decided to cancel his candidature after Khan was accused of making derogatory remarks against women on micro-blogging site Twitter.

An analysis of the Election Commission data, however, shows that the number of independent candidates who won elections has declined over the years. While as many as 37 independents won in the first Lok Sabha election in 1952, in 2009 only nine managed to get elected.

The total number of independent candidates who forfeited their deposits increased from 360 in 1952 to 3,806 in 2009.

There are of course certain people like 55-year-old K. Padmarajan, who is in Vadodara in Gujarat to fight elections against BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, with not an aim for winning but to set a record.

Having no political ambition or hope to win election, the Tamil Nadu-based tyre trading firm owner filed his nomination as an independent Lok Sabha candidate from Vadodara just to set a world record of fighting maximum number of elections.

Padmarajan, who is a qualified homoeopathic doctor, has already fought and lost all the 158 elections in the past.

(Sreeparna Chakrabarty can be contacted at sreeparna.c@ians.in)

IANS