K Padmarajan is all set to fight the country’s most flamboyant candidate in the coming parliamentary election.
The Limca Book of Records, the Indian equivalent of Guinness Book, has listed the 56-year-old homoeopath-turned-businessman as the country’s “Most Unsuccessful Candidate.” He celebrated the silver jubilee of his unusual hobby in 2013.
“All I want is to show to the public is that Indian democracy empowers all citizens with the right to take on even the mightiest individuals through the ballot route,” Padmarajan said.
Although people are aware of their voting rights, even capable individuals are not willing to contest elections, regretted the man who has so far lost 1.2 million rupees in election deposits alone.
The native of Kannur in Kerala considers his 157 electoral battles across the country as a celebration of democracy and the Indian citizen’s implicit right to challenge the powers that be.
On April 17, Padmarajan, will go to Varanasi to file his nomination papers against Narendra Modi. But before that, as in every election season, he takes the poll plunge with a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, a famous Hindu shrine in Kerala dedicated bachelor Lord Ayyappa. He also applied for a Guinness record.
Padmarajan is now settled at Ram Nagar in Mettur, a town in Salem district of Tamil Nadu, where he manages a successful tire retreading business.
He has taken on 11 chief ministers, 13 federal cabinet ministers and 14 state ministers. The bigwigs he has brandished his stentorian voice and mustachioed visage, included P V Narasimha Rao, A K Antony, M Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. He has also filed nominations against Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, K R Narayanan among others. He has contested even presidential polls.
But even symbolic battles can be fraught with hidden dangers as Padmarajan was to realize when he took on former prime minister Narasimha Rao in 1991 at the Nandyal by-election.
“A group of persons, suspected to be Congress workers, kidnapped me as soon as I emerged out of the Kurnool collectorate after filing the nomination papers against Narasimha Rao in the very first day of notification. At that time, the Congress was working hard to get Rao unopposed. My nomination infuriated them as it would necessitate an election and they took me to an isolated location. I managed to escape the ordeal only due to God’s grace and only after the BJP filed a candidate against Rao. But that incident gave me new insight into the kind of power our democratic process confers on each citizen of the country,” he said.
His first electoral foray was in 1988 in the assembly election for Mettur constituency in Tamil Nadu as an independent candidate against CPM’s M Sreerangan and he has never looked back since.
Padmarajan’s serial candidature before long forced the Election Commission (EC) to amend the rules and stipulate that a person can file nominations in only two constituencies in a particular election.
“In 1996 I filed nominations in five parliamentary and three assembly constituencies in five states, which made the EC take notice. Also it was made mandatory that the nomination should be backed by ten electors from the constituency as proposers,” he said.
This time, Padmarajan will file nominations in his home constituency of Dharmapuri in TN before going to Varanasi. So what if the outcome is foregone, for here is one man who considers having played as more important than having won.
Amused by his hobby, the Returning Officer and HDMC Commissioner Y.S. Patil last year spent some time going through newspaper clippings about Padmarajan before receiving his nominations papers.
What prompts Padmarajan who prefers to call himself “all-India election king” to file nomination papers?
“It is for the record, sir” he says.