Imagine going through a booklet of about 50 pages inside the polling booth to exercise your right to vote. Scary, Isn’t it? That is exactly what happened in 1996 when 480 candidates contested from Nalgonda Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh (Now Telangana). This is the highest number of candidates that ever contested a Lok Sabha election from a single constituency. The Lok Sabha elections of 1996 earned the dubious distinction for shattering of all kinds of records on this front. A close second in the same election was Belgaum in Karnataka where 456 candidates contested.
The honours for the top five are shared by
|No.of Contesting Candidates||Constituency Name||State||Year||No. of Candidates who forfeited their deposit*|
|480||Nalgonda||Andhra Pradesh(Now Telangana)||1996||477|
|122||East Delhi||NCT of Delhi||1996||120|
|105||East Delhi||NCT of Delhi||1991||102|
*A Candidate forfeits his deposit when he fails to get more than 1/6th of total valid votes polled in his favour.
As you can see, most of them were non-serious candidates who forfeited their deposits. In fact, most of them were debarred from contesting subsequent elections because they failed to submit their election expenditure. There are a couple of reasons for such large number of candidates. A nominal security deposit made it easier.
Lower Security Deposit
As per Section 34 (1) (a) of Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (R.P. Act), every candidate is required to make a security deposit of a certain specified amount to contest a Lok Sabha or an Assembly Election. This amount was substantially increased after the 1996 experience.
|Type of Election||1996 & Before (in Rs)||Now (in Rs)|
|General Candidate||SC/ST Candidate||General Candidate||SC/ST Candidate|
Drawing Attention to issues
Another reason for such a large number of candidates contesting the 1996 election from Nalgonda & Belgaum was that they wanted to draw everybody’s attention to their issues. While people in Nalgonda were facing an acute drinking water problem (excessive fluoride in drinking water), Marathi speaking people of Belgaum were demanding that Belgaum be merged into Maharashtra. Unfortunately, both those issues are still unresolved even after 19 years.
What about Assembly elections?
The top honour in an Assembly election goes to Modakurichi in Tamilnadu. This also happened in the 1996 elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly. A whopping 1033 candidates contested from Modakurichi. The election to this constituency had to be postponed by a month since the ballot papers (rather ballot books) were not ready in time. The polling time also had to be increased by two hours. Except three (3), rest of 1030 candidates forfeited their deposit. Not just that,
- 88 candidates did not get a single vote (even the candidate did not vote for himself)
- 158 candidates got ONE vote each
Source: Election Commission of India Website