• Tuesday, May 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Forty-three days before poll results, Modi’s BJP wins first parliamentary seat

Mukesh Dalal, who was nominated by the BJP from Surat for the polling which is scheduled on May 7, was announced the winner after the nomination of the candidate of the main opposition party, Indian National Congress, was rejected.

Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds the party symbol during a road show at an election campaign held ahead of the country’s upcoming general elections, in Chennai on April 9, 2024. (Photo by R. Satish BABU / AFP) (Photo by R. SATISH BABU/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured its first win in the ongoing general elections 43 days before the official declaration of results when its candidate from Surat constituency in the western Gujarat state won unopposed, the state’s chief minister, Bhupendra Patel, informed.

Mukesh Dalal, who was nominated by the BJP from Surat for the polling which is scheduled on May 7, was announced the winner after the nomination of the candidate of the main opposition party, Indian National Congress, was rejected, while other candidates in the fray withdrew their names for reasons that are reportedly unclear.

“Hearty congratulations and best wishes to Surat Lok Sabha seat candidate Shri Mukeshbhai Dalal for being elected unopposed,” Patel said in an X post.

On Monday, which was the final day of withdrawal of nomination forms, a total of eight candidates, mainly Independents, opted to withdraw from nominations. They included Pyarelal Bharti of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

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Mukesh Dalal (L) of Indian PM Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party wins 2024 Lok Sabha election unopposed
Mukesh Dalal (L), the candidate of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was announced winner from the Surat parliamentary constituency in the western Indian state of Gujarat unopposed on Monday, April 22, 2024. In this picture, he is seen collecting his winning certificate from an election official. (ANI Photo)

The nomination paper of Nilesh Kumbhani, who was nominated by the Congress from the seat, were cancelled on Sunday (21) after three of his proposers said the signature on the paper was not theirs. The party’s substitute candidate, Suresh Padsala, also met a similar fate, which meant the Grand Old Party was effectively sidelined.

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According to another report, workers of Kumbhani’s Congress party staged a protest outside his home as he was allegedly planning to join the BJP.

Pappan Togadia, a Congress leader from Surat, told the New Indian Express over phone that he had alerted the party’s leadership accusing Kumbhani of engaging in dubious activities and that a plot was being executed to reject his form. He said his warnings fell on deaf ears and reiterated that Kumbhani was waiting to join the BJP.

According to returning officer Sourabh Pardhi, the nomination was scrapped after a preliminary examination found inconsistencies in the signatures of the proposers.

“As all the eight candidates who had successfully filed their nomination for the Surat Lok Sabha seat have withdrawn their candidature, Dalal has been elected unopposed,” he said.

As per election nomination rules, a candidate endorsed by a recognised political party requires a voter from the constituency to propose his/her candidacy. If the candidate is an independent or nominated by an unrecognised political party, 10 electors from the constituency must sign as proposers.

The Congress has said to move the court over the matter.

Shaktisinh Gohil, the chief of the Gujarat chapter of the Congress, accused the BJP of sabotaging the nomination, describing the incident as a “murder of democracy”.

His BJP counterpart CR Paatil was not complaining, however. Congratulating Dalal, he said Surat gave the first lotus (the poll symbol of the BJP) to Modi, who is seeking his third straight mandate this year.

The BJP has been winning the Surat constituency in parliamentary elections since 1989. Former Indian minister of state for railways Darshana Jardosh had won from the seat thrice — between 2009 and 2019.

Results of the Indian elections that kicked off on April 19 are scheduled to be announced on June 4, three days after the seventh and final phase of voting takes place.

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