BJP bags Surat Lok Sabha seat with all other candidates out of the fray

Dalal won uncontested - the election was scheduled on 7 May — after other candidates withdrew on Monday, the last day of withdrawal of papers.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 22, 2024 | 7:25 PMUpdatedApr 22, 2024 | 8:08 PM

Surat Lok Sabha seat candidate Mukesh Dalal (left) with Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil.

The BJP has won the Surat Lok Sabha seat, the first in the 2024 general elections, without a vote being cast, prompting the opposition Congress to allege the victory is “match-fixing”.

Mukesh Dadal, a BJP candidate from the Surat constituency in Gujarat, was declared elected unopposed on Monday, 22 April, after the Congress candidate’s nomination was rejected and other candidates withdrew from the fray.

Dalal won uncontested – the election was scheduled on 7 May — after the other candidates withdrew on Monday, the last day of withdrawal of papers. They included four Independents, three from smaller parties and Pyarelal Bharti of Bahujan Samaj Party.

An election official said that Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani’s nomination was rejected on Sunday after a preliminary examination revealed inconsistencies in the proposers’ signatures.

The nomination form of Suresh Padsala, the Congress’ “substitute” candidate from Surat, was also invalidated.

“I declare that Mukeshkumar Chandrakant Dalal, sponsored by the BJP, has been duly elected to fill the seat in the House from Surat parliamentary constituency,” election officer Saurabh Pardhi told reporters after handing over the certificate of election to Dalal.

“Surat has presented the first Lotus to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I congratulate our candidate for the Surat Lok Sabha seat, Mukesh Dalal, on getting elected unopposed,” state BJP president CR Paatil posted on X.

Paatil told reporters in Surat that going by the way people are extending their support to the BJP, everyone is confident of achieving the target of 400 seats.

‘Asli surat’ exposed, says Rahul

The Congress claimed the BJP was frightened by the anger of MSME owners and the business community and attempted “match-fixing” even in the Surat Lok Sabha seat, which the ruling party has been winning since 1984.

Taking a swipe at the BJP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “The dictator’s ‘asli surat’ (true face) is once again bared in front of the country.”

“Taking away the people’s right to elect their leader is another step towards destroying Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution. I am once again saying—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 in Hindi in a post on X.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh claimed that democracy is under threat.

“‘Aap chronology samajhiye’ (Understand the chronology): The Surat District Election Officer rejected the nomination of the Congress candidate for Surat Lok Sabha, Nilesh Kumbhani, due to ‘discrepancies in the verification of signatures of three proposers’.

On similar grounds, officials rejected the nomination of Suresh Padsala, the INC’s substitute candidate from Surat. The Congress is left without a candidate,” he said on X.

“Our elections, our democracy, Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution—all are under a generational threat. This is the most important election of our lifetime,” Ramesh said.

Related: ‘Mockery of democracy’

Sarcastic comparison to Chandigarh mayor poll

Some people on social media sarcastically likened the Surat situation to the Chandigarh mayoral elections recently, in which the returning officer invalidated votes of the Aam Aadmi Party and declared the BJP candidate as the victor.

The Supreme Court validated the votes and ordered a recount, which declared the AAP candidate the victor. The court rapped Returning Officer Anil Masih while observing that it was obvious that he had defaced the ballot papers and should be prosecuted. The top court noted that his actions amounted to “murder” and a “mockery” of democracy.

Criticising the ‘election, somebody posted on X: “Stage 1: Accept nomination and make voting ballots invalid, declare BJP wins. (Chandigarh Mayor Election). Stage 2: Reject the nomination itself and declare BJP win. (Surat MP election).Stage:?”

(With PTI inputs)