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Belgaum Election Saga: Record 452 Independent Candidates in 1996

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By uday

In a remarkable electoral chapter, the Belgaum(now Belagavi) parliamentary constituency witnessed unprecedented chaos in 1996 when the polling had to be delayed by a month due to an astounding number of independent candidates – a staggering 452 out of a total of 456 contenders. Shri Shivanand Hemappa Koujalgi, representing the Janta Dal, emerged victorious in those elections.

This extraordinary influx of independent candidates was not merely a coincidence but a meticulously orchestrated political maneuver devised by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti. Since 1956, the Samiti had been fervently advocating for the merger of the Marathi-speaking border region with Maharashtra. By flooding the electoral battleground with over 400 activists, the Samiti aimed to thrust the long-standing dispute into the national spotlight.


Despite their sheer numbers, every independent candidate forfeited their deposits, albeit managing to secure approximately 25 percent of the votes. This unforeseen surge upset political calculations and posed logistical challenges for the Election Commission. To accommodate the unprecedented number of candidates, the Commission had to print extra-long ballot papers, highlighting the magnitude of the electoral quagmire.

The ripple effect of this electoral anomaly was felt across the nation, particularly in the 1996 general election when Nalgonda in Andhra Pradesh eclipsed all previous records with a staggering 480 candidates vying for victory. In response to these burgeoning figures, the Election Commission implemented measures such as increasing the security deposit and revising nomination norms to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process.

A complete list of Candidates and Votes received

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