BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal elected unopposed from Surat Lok Sabha seat

Nomination papers of Congress candidates were rejected on Sunday

April 22, 2024 02:41 pm | Updated April 23, 2024 12:26 am IST

BJP’s Mukesh Dalal (L) with the State party president C.R. Paatil on April 22, 2024. Photo: X/@CRPaatil

BJP’s Mukesh Dalal (L) with the State party president C.R. Paatil on April 22, 2024. Photo: X/@CRPaatil

BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal was elected unopposed from the Surat Lok Sabha constituency on Monday after all other nominees dropped out of the contest. 

The nomination papers of the Congress candidates [main and substitute nominees] were rejected on Sunday. On the last day of the withdrawal of nomination papers on Monday, four Independent candidates, BSP’s Pyarelal Bharti and three others belonging to little-known parties withdrew one by one in an unprecedented move, leaving the ruling party’s nominee as the sole candidate in the race.

Lok Sabha election updates April 22, 2024

Following this, Mr. Dalal was declared winner by Returning Officer and District Collector Saurabh Parghi.

Those who opted out of the race were Shoeb Shaikh of the Log Party, Abdul Hamid Khan of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Party, Jayesh Mevada of the Global Republican Party and Independents Bharat Prajapati, Ajit Umat, Kishor Dayani and Baraiya Ramesh, besides the BSP nominee. 

As a result, there won’t be any voting in Gujarat’s second largest city on May 7. 

‘First lotus blooms’

Following his win, Mr. Dalal said: “Today I have been declared winner, so the first lotus has bloomed in Gujarat and in the country.” He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief J.P. Nadda, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and State unit chief C.R. Paatil for the faith they showed in him.

Mr. Patel and Mr. Paatil congratulated Mr. Dalal. 

On social media platform X, Mr. Patel extended his best wishes to Mr. Dalal and said, “Hearty congratulations and best wishes to Surat Lok Sabha seat candidate Shri Mukeshbhai Dalal on being elected unopposed.”

Congress moves EC

The development triggered a national backlash with the principal Opposition party knocking on the doors of the Election Commission seeking postponement of the election in the constituency. 

In its plea to the EC, the Congress has asked the the poll body to use its powers under Article 324 “for setting aside the order passed by the Returning Officer cancelling [Congress candidate] Nilesh Kumbhani’s nomination, directing restoration of his candidature from the Surat Lok Sabha constituency; or in the alternative, (accepting) nomination of the backup candidate of the INC, Suresh Padsala”.

After the BJP candidate was declared winner, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in his post on X, said the “true face of the dictator is once again in front of the country!”

“Taking away the right of the people to choose their leader is another step towards destroying the Constitution of Baba Saheb Ambedkar,” he said. “I am saying it again – this is not just an election to form a government, this is an election to save the country, this is an election to protect the Constitution,” he said.

On Sunday, Returning Officer Saurabh Parghi rejected the nomination papers of Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani and his substitute nominee Suresh Padsala, both from the Patidar community. 

Their papers were rejected after the proposers of both candidates claimed that they did not sign the papers endorsing their candidature. 

For Mr. Kumbhani, all his three proposers were his relatives, Jagdish Savaliya, Dhruvin Dhamelia and Ramesh Polra. The proposer of Mr. Padsala was Vishal Koladia. 

‘Proposers untraceable’

Mr. Kumbhani told  local presspersons on Sunday, “While Jagdish Savaliya is my brother-in-law, Dhruvin Dhamelia is my nephew and Ramesh Polra is my business partner. I tried to contact them over the phone and even sent a few men to look for them but they are untraceable. They have either gone underground or been kidnapped.”

The Congress leaders also were tight-lipped about why the party didn’t ask local leaders or workers to be proposers. 

In Surat, political sources claimed that the Congress candidate “struck a deal with the BJP” to drop out of the race while the remaining candidates were apparently either “coerced or paid off”. 

Neither the Returning Officer nor the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat made any statement regarding the development in Surat. 

In Delhi, Congress’s communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh posted on X: “Aap chronology samajhiye: Surat District Election Officer rejects @INCIndia’s candidate for Surat Lok Sabha, Nilesh Kumbhani’s nomination for ‘discrepancies in verification of signatures of three proposers’. On similar grounds, officials reject the nomination of Suresh Padsala, the INC’s substitute candidate from Surat. Congress Party is left without a candidate. All other candidates withdraw their nomination except BJP’s candidate, Mukesh Dalal. BJP candidate declared ‘elected unopposed’… nearly two weeks before polling on May 7th, 2024.”

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