Amidst high drama and claims of kidnapping and pressure, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleged that its candidate of the Surat East assembly seat in Gujarat, Kanchan Jariwala, was “kidnapped and forced at gunpoint to withdraw his nomination” ahead of the crucial assembly polls.
Mr. Jariwala had filed his nomination from Surat East, a seat with a sizeable minority base in Surat city. His candidature would have led to a triangular contest between the BJP’s Arvind Rana and Congress candidate Aslam Cyclewala.
Suddenly, Mr. Jariwala went incommunicado, and his location was untraceable, leading to charges of kidnapping and pressure. He became untraceable when he went to get his nomination papers scrutinized on Tuesday.
Later, Mr. Jariwala in a video said he has withdrawn from the race after listening to his constituents. “After listening to the constituents, I followed my inner voice and decided to opt out from the contest. My conscience does not permit me to contest from the party that exhibits anti-national and anti-Gujarat mindset,” he said.
“The moment he came out of the office after getting his nomination scrutinized, BJP’s goons took him away,” Manish Sisodia alleged.
The top brass of the AAP, in a series of tweets from Arvind Kejriwal and Mr. Sisodia, and others, first claimed that Mr. Jariwala had been missing since yesterday and he was likely kidnapped by the BJP leaders.
“Our candidate from Surat (East), Kanchan Jariwala, and his family missing since yesterday. First, BJP tried to get his nomination rejected. But his nomination was accepted. Later, he was being pressurised to withdraw his nomination. Has he been kidnapped?” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal, the national convener of AAP and Delhi CM.
Simultaneously, Mr. Sisodia told the media persons in the national capital that the BJP goons had kidnapped Mr. Jariwala.
Immediately after the tweets by the AAP top brass alleging the kidnapping of their candidate, Mr. Jariwala surfaced surrounded by hundreds of policemen at the returning officer’s office to withdraw his nomination from the electoral contest.
Mr. Sisodia said their candidate was brought to the election office surrounded by 500 policemen.
“There is pressure on him to withdraw his nomination. He has been forced to sit in the poll office and is being pressured by policemen. I want to tell the Election commission that this is an open threat to democracy,” Mr. Sisodia said alleging that the candidate was in the custody of the Policemen who were “forcing” him to opt out of the contest.
Flagging his allegations, he posted a tweet while heading to the Election Commission office: “A candidate was kidnapped. They got him to withdraw his nomination at gunpoint. What can be a bigger emergency for the Election Commission? So we have come to the Election Commission with an appeal for immediate action.”
The Election Commission, after meeting a fou-member AAP delegation led by Mr. Sisodia, said the AAP representation about the issue has been “sent to CEO Gujarat to enquire and take action as warranted”.
Another AAP leader Raghav Chaddha also took to Twitter to post a dramatic video in which Mr. Jariwala was surrounded by the cops. Mr. Chadhha alleged that their candidate was “dragged” and forced to withdraw his nomination.
“Watch how police and BJP goons together - dragged our Surat East candidate Kanchan Jariwala to the RO office, forcing him to withdraw his nomination The term ‘free and fair election’ has become a joke!” he tweeted.
Mr. Sisodia and other AAP leaders in Gujarat said the BJP was “panicking” about losing the Gujarat election and had therefore resorted to kidnapping its candidate in Surat.
So far, the BJP has not responded to the allegations of kidnapping or using force to pressure the AAP candidate to withdraw from the race.
Conscience did not permit to contest: Jariwala
But, Mr. Jariwala said he withdrew from the race “after his constituents told him for the same.“
Local media in Surat telecasted a video of Mr. Jariwala explaining the reason for his withdrawal. “After listening the constituents, I followed my inner voice and decided to opt out from the contest. My conscience does not permit me to contest from the party that exhibits “anti-national and anti-Gujarat” mindset,“ he said.