Who is India’s average political candidate? It may not be who you think

With 545 seats up for grabs in India’s lower house of parliament the Lok Sabha, lots of different characters end up running in the elections (as we mentioned before in our field guide to the Indian elections, India’s current election is really a series of 545 individual contests). During this year’s vote, for example, much media attention has focused on how more than 1,200 candidates hold criminal charges. India’s business elite — the “armchair critics,” as one such professional called herself — are also now entering politics and challenging the status quo of contenders.

And let’s not forget the big three capturing national and international spotlight: Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Rahul Gandhi of the National Congress Party, and Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party are all running for seats in parliament, although the media tend to focus on their respective candidacies for prime minister.

But a recent analysis from The Hindu, one of India’s leading English newspapers, shows that the average candidate seeking election doesn’t quite fit any of these profiles. As Omar Rashid and Rukmini S. write, the standard candidate could very well be “a mild-mannered social activist from Lucknow” (Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state).

Among the characteristics they identified of the typical candidate:

  • male
  • around 45 years old
  • identifies as an independent
  • has access to higher education
  • has no criminal record
  • is not poor
  • works in agriculture, social service, or business
  • is from Uttar Pradesh
  • bears the last name “Singh”

The Hindu has a full profile of the “common Indian electoral candidate” here.

This piece was originally published on May 13, 2013, on Link TV’s World News website.

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