BJP wins Surat seat uncontested amid legal controversy

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured a significant victory in the Surat Lok Sabha constituency even before the counting of votes began on June 4, 2024. Mukesh Dalal, the BJP candidate, was declared the winner on April 22 after all other contenders withdrew from the race. This marks a rare instance of an uncontested election in Indian parliamentary history.

| Updated: 04 June, 2024 9:30 am IST

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured a significant victory in the Surat Lok Sabha constituency even before the counting of votes began on June 4, 2024. Mukesh Dalal, the BJP candidate, was declared the winner on April 22 after all other contenders withdrew from the race. This marks a rare instance of an uncontested election in Indian parliamentary history.

Dalal’s victory followed the disqualification of Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani due to alleged inconsistencies in the signatures of his supporters on his nomination papers. Kumbhani’s disqualification led to eight other candidates withdrawing their nominations, leaving Dalal as the sole candidate.

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This development has sparked controversy and legal challenges. Three Surat voters, Kalpesh Barot, Firoz Malek, and Ashok Pimple, have filed a petition with the Gujarat High Court, arguing that the rejection of Kumbhani’s nomination was improper under Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act. They claim that the election officer did not have the authority to invalidate the nomination and that the process lacked transparency.

Election officials have maintained that they adhered to legal procedures. The Election Commission emphasized that while they strive for competitive elections, they cannot intervene if candidates voluntarily withdraw. The Surat District Election Officer cited affidavits from Kumbhani’s proposers, who claimed their signatures were forged, as the basis for the rejection.

This incident adds to the complex political landscape as the counting of votes for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections proceeds. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with key leaders like Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, is among the 851 candidates in Uttar Pradesh, where vote counting is underway in 81 centers across 75 districts.

Modi is aiming for a third consecutive term from Varanasi, while Singh and Irani seek to retain their seats in Lucknow and Amethi, respectively. Exit polls predict a return to power for Modi, potentially making him the first Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to achieve three successive terms.

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