When the time for filing nominations under first phase of the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh ended on Friday, there were at least 73 candidates in the fray for the five assembly seats in Ghaziabad district, the provisional figures from the district election office indicated.

The assembly constituencies of Loni, Muradnagar, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Modinagar together have 2,899,484 eligible voters, as per the latest electoral rolls.

While many candidates filed a single set of the prescribed nomination form, a few candidates — Sunil Kumar Sharma of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Chhavi Yadav of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Sachin Sharma of the AAP, Nand Kishor Gurjar of the BJP, Atul Garg of the BJP, Madan Bhaiya of Rashtriya Lok Dal, Yameen Malik of the Congress, Sushant Goyal of the Congress and Sudesh Sharma of the RLD — filed multiple forms.

“Many candidates file multiple forms as a fail-safe against one of their forms getting rejected during scrutiny. They can file a maximum of four set of forms and parties also field substitute candidates (as per Form B) in order to remain in the fray even if the candidature of the main candidate gets rejected,” said Vivek Srivastava, additional district election officer

According to district election officer RK Singh, 13 nominations were filed till Friday from Loni, 18 each from Sahibabad and Ghaziabad while 16 were from Muradnagar and eight from Modinagar assembly segments.

According to district records, 42 nominations were filed till Thursday while 31 were filed on the last day on Friday. In all, 73 nominations were filed for the five assembly seats.

During the 2017 elections, 88 candidates had filed their nomination papers while 53 contested the elections from the five seats in Ghaziabad,after scrutiny and withdrawal of nominations.

As per the schedule announced by the Election Commission of India, January 24 has been fixed for scrutiny of nominations while the selected candidates may withdraw their names till January 27. Thereafter, the list of final candidates will be rolled out for the polls on February 10.

Political experts said the practice of filing more than one set of forms and substitute candidates during the nomination is an old one.

“It is generally due to fear or to safeguard against rejection of candidature, on one account or the other during the scrutiny stage, that people file multiple sets of forms. Since the forms require a lot of personal details in prescribed formats, some people generally file more than one. The replacement candidates also file nominations as a fail-safe, in case the main candidate of a party gets rejected, the other steps up,” said Dr Virendra Singh, associate professor (political science), MMH Degree College, Ghaziabad.

There were other reasons too, said Vikrant Sharma, a criminal lawyer at Ghaziabad court.

“Since each form has a different proposer, some candidates try to portray that they have a proposer who may belong to a particular caste or religion. Although no party or candidate would admit it, but caste equations play a vital role in elections. In the past, when incidents of violence were rampant during elections, people also fielded their relatives or family members as substitute candidates so that they may contest if the primary candidate suffered any harm,” said Sharma.

“Despite the Election Commission of India issuing detailed guidelines, many still find it difficult to fill up forms and attach the required documents. They take the help of lawyers for that. There is a need for awareness sessions for candidates and help desks may be set up to assist them,” Sharma said.

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