Is It Possible For A Candidate to Run for Two Lok Sabha Seats at the Same Time? If He Takes Both, What Would Happen?

Historically, it has been usual for a candidate to run in two Lok Sabha seats. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, just submitted his candidacy to Raebareli. On April 26, he ran for office in Kerala’s Wayanad in the second round.

In addition to Rahul Gandhi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has submitted nominations for the state assembly elections in two seats, Kantabanji and Hinjili.

What is said by the law?
A person is able to run for office in both of the Lok Sabha seats at the same time under the Representation of People Act, 1951.

A candidate may only occupy one seat at a time, according to Section 70 of the Representation of People Act, even if they have won many seats.

In order to prevent representation from being concentrated in the hands of one person, the clause prohibits candidates from running for more than one Lok Sabha seat. It also encourages impartial elections.

Through an amendment in 1996, a paragraph of the Act—33 (7)—that permits a candidate to run for two seats was established. There was no limit on the number of seats a candidate could run for before this.

Suppose the candidate wins in both races.
If elected from both, the person may only occupy one seat at a time. A byelection is required for the seat a candidate leaves vacant if they win two seats. The main reason for the objection to a candidate running for several seats was the need to hold byelections after the votes closed.

The Election Commission (EC) has backed arguments throughout the years that candidates should only be allowed to run for one seat. The reasoning behind this is that having a bypoll would be a waste of tax dollars and resources if a candidate were to win both seats.

Ashwini Upadhyay, a lawyer and member of the BJP, filed a plea with the Supreme Court (SC) in 2023, requesting that Section 33(7) of the Representation of People Act be ruled illegal. “My petition claimed that as “one person, one vote” is a core concept of our democracy, so should be “one candidate, one constituency,” he stated, as reported by Business Standard. The SC rejected the plea on the grounds that it pertained to legislative policy.

Upadhyay insisted that the present legislation should be changed, citing findings from the Law Commission and the EC that support capping a candidate’s number of seats at one.

The National Commission suggested in 2002 that Independent candidates—often “dummy” candidates or party defectors—be discouraged from running for office.

The EC raised the security deposits, which were Rs 250 for an assembly seat and Rs 500 for a Lok Sabha seat, to Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 for general seats, and Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for seats designated for candidates from Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, respectively, in an effort to deter incompetent candidates from running for office.

The Chief Election Commissioner pleaded with the Prime Minister in July 2004 to change Section 33(7), failing which the candidate running for two seats would have to pay for the by-election to the seat they choose to withdraw from if they were to win both seats. It recommended the candidate donate Rs 5 lakh for an Assembly by-election and Rs 10 lakh for a Lok Sabha seat.

In 2015, the Law Commission approved the EC’s proposal to let a candidate run for a single Lok Sabha seat in its 255th report.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ran for three seats in Uttar Pradesh in 1957—Mathura, Lucknow, and Balrampur—winning Balrampur on the Jana Sangh ticket. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was spelled “Atal Behari Bajpai” in the EC records at the time. He ran from two seats in 1962, just as he did in 1991.

Biju Patnaik, the father of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) founder Naveen Patnaik, ran for four Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in Odisha in 1971.

Former prime minister Indira Gandhi ran for two seats in the 1980 Lok Sabha Election, winning both. This was the first occasion in her political career that Gandhi ran from outside her home state of Andhra Pradesh, now known as Telangana, and from Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh.

In Raebareli, she beat Vijaya Raje Scindia; in Medak, she faced off against S. Jaipal Reddy of the Janata Party and “human computer” Shakuntala Devi. Arun Nehru won the ensuing by-election in Rae Bareli, while Indira Gandhi was able to hold onto power in Medak. However, Madan Lal Dhartipakad and Bhagwati Prasad Dixit were also on the list of her opponents in Raebareli that year. That year, Madan Lal also ran against Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi and Charan Singh in Baghpat.

Devi Lal, a former deputy prime minister, ran for three seats in three different states in 1989: Ferozepur (Punjab), Sikar (Rajasthan), and Rohtak (Haryana). He won the first two.

Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party ran unsuccessfully for three seats in 1991—Bijnor, Bulandshahr, and Haridwar.

Sonia Gandhi, a former president of the Congress, ran in 1999 from Bellary, Karnataka, and Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. Despite choosing to represent Amethi, she won both seats. In Bellary, she triumphed against seasoned Sushma Swaraj. Raebareli has been represented and won by Sonia Gandhi since the 2004 general election. This time, she has relinquished her seat to Rahul Gandhi, his son, who will run in the May 20 election from Raebareli.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi contested for the Lok Sabha in 2014 from the Gujarati city of Vadodara and the Uttar Pradeshi city of Varanasi, and he won both seats. He kept Varanasi with him. Today is anticipated to see PM Modi submit his candidacy for the Lok Sabha constituency in Varanasi.

Rahul Gandhi ran for two seats in 2019: Wayanad in Kerala and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. Only the Wayanad seat gave him victory.

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