Business Standard

No. of veterans thinning faster amid rise in total candidates


At 94, Shafiqur Rahman Barq was planning to contest from Sambhal Lok Sabha seat when ill health caught up. The five-time MP from the Western Uttar Pradesh constituen­cy passed away last month, and with him, the Parliament lost its eldest member.

The ilk of veterans, to which Barq belonged, is thinning fast with every election. The share of candidates who have contested multiple times (more than twice) has fallen from 19 per cent of total contestant­s in 1999, to 7.1 per cent as of the last election, shows a Business Standard analysis of data from Ashoka University’s Trivedi Centre for Political Data. It has declined for four straight general elections.

Multiple veteran candidates are not contesting going by the candidate lists announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress.

These include the BJP’S Meerut member of parliament (MP) Rajendra Agrawal who has served three terms in office. He made way for actor Arun Govil who played Ram in Ramayan in the recently announced list of candidates. Thirdtime Congress MP Pratibha Singh from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh said that she is not contesting the elections citing a poor situation on the ground for re-election.

The drop in share also reflects an absolute decline in the number of veteran candidates even as the total number of contestant­s has risen over the years. The total number of candidates has risen from 4,648 in 1999 to 8,054 in 2019. But the number of candidates who have already contested more than twice has fallen from 881 to 569 in the same period.

This decline comes despite a persistent gap in the winnabilit­y of such candidates when compared to others. The analysis looked at the share of winners among multiple contest candidates with the share of winners among candidates contesting for the first and second time. The gap has narrowed since the turn of the millennium. The share of winners among veteran candidates was 29.2 per cent in 2019 compared to 5 per cent for candidates contesting for the first or second time. It was 35.6 per cent for veterans in 1999 and 6.1 per cent for others.

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