BJP To Win Surat As Congress Candidate Disqualified, Independents Pull Out

09:14PM Mon 22 Apr, 2024

New Delhi: BJP's Mukesh Dalal is set to be elected unopposed from the Surat Lok Sabha seat after all other candidates withdrew from the contest, the party's Gujarat unit chief CR Paatil said today. Today was the deadline for withdrawing nominations.
The nominations of the Congress party's Surat candidate and his substitute were rejected by the returning officer over alleged discrepancies in paperwork, a development that the Congress called an attempt at "match-fixing".

"Surat has presented the first lotus to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I congratulate our candidate for Surat Lok Sabha seat Mukesh Dalal for getting elected unopposed," Mr Paatil posted on the microblogging website X, referring to the BJP's election symbol.

Eight candidates - seven of them independents - and Pyarelal Bharti of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) withdrew their papers.

The nomination papers of the Congress's Surat candidate Nilesh Kumbhani was rejected on Sunday after the district returning officer Saurabh Parghi found discrepancies in the signatures of the proposers.

The nomination form of Suresh Padsala, the Congress's substitute candidate from Surat, was also found invalid.

The returning officer had said the four nomination forms submitted by the two Congress candidates did not appear genuine. The proposers, in their affidavits, had said they had not signed the forms themselves, the returning officer said in the order.

Congress lawyer Babu Mangukiya said the party will approach the high court and the Supreme Court for relief.

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Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in a post on X said the Surat developments indicate "democracy is under threat". "Our elections, our democracy, Babasaheb Ambedkar's Constitution - all are under a generational threat. This is the most important election of our lifetime," Mr Ramesh said.

Mr Ramesh alleged the "distress" of micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) owners and the business community in PM Modi's "Anyay Kaal" and their anger have "spooked the BJP so badly that they are attempting to match-fix the Surat Lok Sabha polls, which they have won consistently since the 1984 Lok Sabha elections."