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India polls: Dummy candidates an age-old trick to fool voters into making wrong choice

Published on May 2, 2014 12:04 PM
This combination of photographs created on April 28, 2014, shows Indian Independent parliamentary candidate for Amritsar Amarinder Singh (left) as he campaigns in the village of Chogawan, some 25km from Amritsar on April 28, 2014 and former chief minister of the northern Indian state of Punjab and Congress Party parliamentary candidate for Amritsar Amarinder Singh as he greets supporters during an election campaign in Amritsar on April 23, 2014. Political parties often scout for namesakes and then fund their election expenses in order to pit them against rivals in constituencies where a few hundred votes could swing the result. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian politician Chandulal Sahu, standing for the second time for a seat in Parliament, was irritated but not surprised when he saw he was running against seven competitors who share his name.

Popular Bollywood actor Hema Malini, contesting in the holy city of Mathura, is up against two other Hema Malinis while veteran politician Amarinder Singh faces a similarly confusing challenge in northern Punjab.

Even Mr Narendra Modi, the election frontrunner for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), briefly faced a threat from a namesake in his constituency in the western state of Gujarat.

Far from a coincidence, these "dummy" candidates are an age-old trick in Indian politics designed to fool voters who might mistakenly select the wrong person once inside the polling booth.

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