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Despite Losing 238 Times In Polls, Tamil Nadu’s Election King Set To Contest LS Election

Despite losing 238 times in elections, K. Padmarajan keeps contesting, prioritizing participation over victory. He inspires resilience, serving as a role model, and emphasizing the importance of perseverance in adversity.

Edited By : Aniket Raj | Updated: Mar 28, 2024 10:36 IST
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Tamil Nadu's K Padmarajan
Tamil Nadu's K Padmarajan

Despite losing 238 times in his attempts to win public office in India, K Padmarajan is undeterred as he gears up to contest elections again in the world’s largest democracy. The 65-year-old tire repair shop owner began his political journey in 1988 from his hometown of Mettur in Tamil Nadu.

People laughed when he entered the political arena, but he expressed his desire to demonstrate that an ordinary individual can participate. Padmarajan, adorned with a bright shawl and an imposing walrus mustache, stated that unlike other candidates who strive for victory, his satisfaction lies in merely participating. He mentioned that he is content with losing when it inevitably happens.

In this year’s six-week-long general elections starting on April 19 in India, he is running for a parliamentary seat in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district. Widely known as the ‘Election King’, Padmarajan has participated in various elections nationwide, spanning from presidential contests to local polls.

Throughout the years, he has faced defeat against notable figures such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, as well as Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi.

“I do not care,” he remarked, emphasizing that victory holds secondary importance to him. “Who is the opposite candidate? I do not care.”

Currently, Padmarajan’s primary focus is on prolonging his string of losses. However, this pursuit hasn’t been inexpensive, as he estimates spending thousands of dollars in nomination fees over more than three decades.

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This includes a security deposit of 25,000 rupees ($300) for his latest endeavor, which will only be reimbursed if he garners more than 16 percent of the vote. His sole triumph has been securing a place as India’s most unsuccessful candidate in the Limca Book of Records, which serves as the country’s repository of records held by Indians.

Padmarajan’s most notable performance occurred in 2011 when he contested the assembly elections in Mettur. Despite the overwhelming victory of his opponent with over 75,000 votes, Padmarajan managed to secure 6,273 votes.

“I did not even expect one vote,” he admitted, “But it showed that people are accepting me.”

Alongside running his tire repair shop, Padmarajan offers homoeopathic remedies and serves as an editor for local media outlets. However, among all his endeavors, he regards participating in elections as the most significant.

“It is about involvement,” he emphasized. “People hesitate to put in their nominations. So I want to be a role model, to create awareness.”

Padmarajan diligently preserves records of the nomination papers and identity cards from each of his unsuccessful attempts at political office, ensuring their safety by laminating them. Each document showcases a variety of campaign symbols he has employed, such as a fish, ring, hat, telephone, and now, tires.

Once mocked, Padmarajan is now invited to speak to students about resilience, using his election campaigns to illustrate how to recover from setbacks.

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First published on: Mar 28, 2024 10:36 AM IST

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