In the hard-fought and divisive election season, fighting from more than one Lok Sabha constituency is a legitimate game plan in India, the largest democracy of the world, where politicians often contest polls from two seats. While several top politcians including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav have done so in the past, in the 2019 General Elections, slated for April-May, as many as three leaders have filed their nominations from two Lok Sabha constituencies so far.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in a first, has filed his nomination from Kerala's Wayanad Lok Sabha seat as well as his traditional stronghold in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi. Though a person is allowed to contest polls, whether a general or Assembly election from more than one seat in India, the Gandhi scion's Wayanad pick has triggered a political row, with the BJP top leadership mocking him, saying he is afraid of losing from Amethi.
For those unserved, Rahul Gandhi is not the only politician who is contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from more than one seat. The other two include former Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief Upendra Kushwaha and Prakash Ambedkar, the leader of the newly-formed Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA).
In a tactical move, Ambedkar in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, has decided to contest from Solapur Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra along with his home base - Akola in the state.
Kushwaha, who in December last year, pulled out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), also announced that he will be contesting from his sitting seat of Karakat besides Ujiarpur where he would be pitted against Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai.
On the other hand, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will also be contesting the state Assembly elections from Bijepur along with his home turf Hinjili. Simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha will be held in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. The counting of votes for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be taken up on May 23.
Under section 33 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person is allowed to contest polls, whether a general election, by-elections or Assembnly elections, from a maximum of two seats. Before this law, candidates could run in any number of constituencies.
In 2018, the Election Commission filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying that a candidate should not be allowed to contest election from more than one constituency and the existing law allowing politicians to fight polls from two seats be amended. However, the proposal is not cleared by the Central government till the time.