Published 01:22 IST, May 7th 2024

As Rahul Gandhi Contests Polls From 2 Seats, Know on How Many Seats a Candidate Can Fight Elections

Concept of a candidate contesting from 2 constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections is not uncommon, however there are certain legal provisions.

Reported by: Abhishek Tiwari
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Election Commission of India | Image: PTI/ Representational

New Delhi: Similar to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is contesting this year’s Lok Sabha polls from two seats, which includes Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli and Kerala’s Wayanad Lok Sabha constituencies. During the last general elections, he contested elections from Wayanad and Amethi, managing to win polls only from Wayanad.

This year, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is also contesting from two assembly seats. Along with Lok Sabha, assembly elections are also being held in Odisha and Naveen Patnaik has filed nomination from Hinjali and Kantabanji Assembly seats.


The concept of a candidate contesting from two constituencies in India in the Lok Sabha elections is not uncommon, although with certain legal provisions and historical precedents.

Reports suggest that in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, as many as 23 candidates contested the polls from two Lok Sabha seats.


In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too contested from two Lok Sabha seats, one from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi and the other one from Gujarat’s Vadodara. PM Modi registered a comfortable win on both the seats, following which he vacated the Vadodara seat, prompting a by poll.

However, recently the issue of dual candidature arose when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination from Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli, after contesting from Kerala's Wayanad in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections.


India has a history of such instances where prominent politicians contested from two Lok Sabha seats and notable examples are former-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, LK Advani and PM Narendra Modi.  who contested from Lucknow and Gandhinagar constituencies in 1996 and won from the seats.

Indian Electoral History

India’s electoral track record has a history of several big political faces including the names of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati among others, who contested the elections on more than one seat.


In the 1957 elections, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had contested three Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh, including the names of Mathura, Balrampur and Lucknow. However, he only managed to win in Balrampur.

In the 1996 elections, the former-prime minister contested from the Gandhinagar and Lucknow seats and managed to win both. He however, chose to retain the Lucknow seat.


In the 1980 elections, former-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had contested from UP’s Rae Bareli and Andhra Pradesh’s (now in Telangana) Medak, winning both. She later vacated the Medak seat.

Former-Deputy Prime Minister and BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, in the 1991 elections, contested from Gandhinagar and New Delhi seats.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, during the start of political innings in 1999, contested from two seats, one from Karnataka’s Bellary seat and the other from UP’s Amethi seat. She won the polls from both the constituencies, following which she resigned from Bellary.

In 1971, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s father, Biju Patnaik, contested from four Assembly and one Lok Sabha seats.

In 1989, former-Deputy PM Devi Lal contested from three seats in three different states. The seats were Rohtak in Haryana, Sikar in Rajasthan and Ferozepur in Punjab. He lost the Ferozepur seat, but managed to win the other two.

Bahujan Samaj Party’s Supremo, Mayawati had contested from three Lok Sabha seats in 1991, including Bijnor, Bulandshahr, and Haridwar. She unfortunately lost all the three seats.

How Many Seats a Candidate Can Contest?

In 1996, Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act was amended to restrict the number of constituencies from which a candidate could contest to two. Until then, there was no limitation on the number of constituencies from which a candidate could contest.

However, if a candidate manages to win from both the seats, they have to resign from one seat within 14 days, following which a by-election takes place on the seat. The provision in the law doesn't allow an individual to hold multiple seats in the Lok Sabha to ensure fairness in the electoral process.

However, over the years, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has supported arguments that candidates should be restricted to contesting from one seat, citing the waste of public money and resources in holding a bypoll if a candidate were to win both seats.

Election Commission on By-election Expenses

In July 2004, the Election Commission had recommended an amendment in Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act, suggesting that in case of winning both the seats and resigning from one, the candidate should bear the expenses of the by-election held on the seat.

The recommended amount was to be Rs 5 Lakh for Assembly by-elections and Rs 10 Lakh for the Lok Sabha by-elections.

As per the provisions, a by-election is necessarily to be conducted on the vacant seat within six months after a candidate vacates it. 

01:22 IST, May 7th 2024