Independents in polls: 0.53 pet cent success rate since 1952

The country's electoral history has seen over 41,000 Independents contesting Lok Sabha polls till now but only 221 of them have won, the success rate being an abysmal 0.53 per cent.

Out of total 41,309 Independents who fought the electoral battle, a whopping 40,420 not only lost the polls but also got their deposits forfeited, according to official data.

On many occasions, Independents have acted as spoilers to the fortunes of major contestants, splitting their votes.

In the first Lok Sabha elections held in 1952, 533 out of 1,874 candidates were Independents. While 37 Independents had come out victorious, 360 had to forfeit their deposits.

1957 remains the best year for Independents as 42 of 481 of them who fought the polls came out victorious. The victory percentage was 8.7.

Success rate for Independents was at the lowest in 1991 with only five out of 5,546 Independents, at 0.09 per cent success rate, winning the polls.

In the 15 general elections that India has seen over past 62 years, a total of 74,805 candidates have contested the power-battle of which 55 per cent were Independents.

The success rate of Independents was around 0.2 per cent in previous two elections held in 2009 and 2004. 

In the six elections held since 1991-92, a total 26,257 candidates were in the fray as Independents out of a total 45,604 and only 40 of them tasted success while 26,135 (99.5 per cent) of them even had to forfeit their deposits.

The trend has been that a large number of candidates in the fray are non-serious, which according to a Law Commission of India report, makes elections ‘cumbersome, expensive and unmanageable - indeed farcical in some cases’.

‘Too many candidates in the election fray puts unnecessary and avoidable stress on the management of elections and increases expenditure on account of security, maintenance of law and order, and requires extra number of balloting units of voting machines, etc,’ the commission said.

In December 2010, a core committee on electoral reforms, in a paper co-sponsored by the Election Commission, had recommended debarring certain candidates who despite losing elections several times still decide to contest, wasting resources of the country.

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