Shop owner K Padmarajan doesn't feel like a loser. In fact, he sees much to celebrate in the 158 times he has stood for public office and failed.
Starting out in 1988, he had a point to prove -- to those who laughed at the ambitions of a man who repaired tyres for a living and to the cynics who scorned Indian democracy with all its flaws and inefficiencies.
"Back then, I owned a cycle puncture repair shop and a thought struck me that I, an ordinary man with an ordinary income and no special status in society, could contest the elections," he told AFP.
He lost. And then lost again and again. Over 26 years, he has competed hopelessly for local assembly seats and parliament, often standing against big names such as prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh.
In all, he says he has forfeited 1.2 million rupees ($20,000) in deposits tendered in his lonely pursuit, in the process earning a place in the Limca Book of Records.
"I have never contested an election to win and the results just don't matter to me," laughs the entrepreneur whose tyre shop has flourished alongside his other business, a homeopathic medical practice.
His best result came in 2011 when he stood for an assembly seat in his home constituency of Mettur in southern Tamil Nadu state. He won 6,273 votes, raising the prospect that one day he could be victorious.
"I'm just someone who is very keen on getting people to participate in the electoral process and cast their vote and this is just my means of generating awareness on the same," he added.
On Wednesday, he will stand in Vadodara, the constituency of election frontrunner Narendra Modi in western Gujarat state, which goes to the polls in the latest stage of the country's mammoth election.
"I always chose to contest against the newsmakers. At the moment, if there's one VIP who's making all the headlines, it's Narendra Modi," Padmarajan explained by telephone.
Padmarajan says he will continue as an independent and he clearly enjoys the attention because of his entry in the Limca Book of Records.
While he is the biggest living election loser, however, another man holds the record for the total number of failures. Kaka Joginder Singh, who died in 1998, stood for office more than 300 times.
"The same people who laughed at the idea when I stood in my first elections are now on my side and would like to see me contest as many elections as I can in this lifetime," he said.
Updated Date: Apr 30, 2014 11:50:27 IST