How did BJP conquer Surat's seat even before declaration of poll RESULTS?

He won the seat unopposed after the nomination of Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani was rejected over the irregularities in the signature of proposers and around eight other candidates withdrew before polls.

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Courtesy: X/CivilLearning1

India is gearing up for the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 results, culminating in the biggest democratic festival and setting a new benchmark for the next term. The counting already commenced at 8 am Tuesday but even before the results were out, the Bhartiya Janata Party had already drawn the first victory with Mukesh Dalal winning the Lok Sabha seat of Surat. 

He won the seat unopposed after the nomination of Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani was rejected over the irregularities in the signature of proposers and around eight other candidates withdrew before polls. The Congress candidate's election was rejected as per the norms of Section 36(2) of the Representation of the People Act by the Returning Officer. The Returning Officer (RO) has the authority to examine and reject nominations based on valid objections.

How did the BJP win? 

On April 22, BJP's Mukesh Dalal won uncontested in Surat after all other candidates withdrew, and the Aam Aadmi Party didn't nominate due to an alliance with Congress. Kumbhani had gone incommunicado since April 22 and was later suspended by the Congress had blamed him for the rejection of the nomination form and also accused him of conspiring with the BJP against the Congress. 

Controversy over Dalal's winning 

The BJP's Surat seat was won uncontested, sparking a massive row with the Congress repeatedly alleging the ruling BJP of resorting to undemocratic means in Gujarat through its 'wrong and undue influence.' They said that the BJP pressured the candidates into withdrawing nominations.  

What did the Election Commission say?

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar had said on Monday that the Election Commission steps in when other candidates withdraw their elections because of forceful pressure leading to a situation of uncontested poll. 

He specified that the declaration of a candidate elected unopposed was not violative of the 2013 Supreme Court judgement on the NOTA option. While answering a question in the press conference on whether the commission would consider an amendment in the rules so that no candidate is declared unopposed and people have the option to vote for NOTA, the chief poll officer said, "But if candidates decide to withdraw nominations, what can we do? If they are under pressure, if they are locked up or forced, that's where our role comes in. But if they are doing it of their own will, how would I..."

"Therefore, if you want a law according to which there will be no election where there is only candidate, I do not think that would be right. But it is a must to ensure that no one is forcefully removed as a candidate," he added clarifying the commission's stand on the issue.