Surat's electoral drama: Congress candidates disqualified, clear path for BJP

Congress’ Nilesh Kumbhani found his candidacy invalidated after alleged discrepancies were discovered in the proposers' signatures

Nirvachan Sadan, the office of the Election Commission of India (photo: IANS)
Nirvachan Sadan, the office of the Election Commission of India (photo: IANS)


The electoral battle in Surat took an unexpected turn, as the Congress party faced a setback, with the Returning Officer rejecting its candidates' nomination forms on 21 April.

While in most constituencies of Gujarat the fight is mainly between two parties, the Congress and the BJP, in Surat the BJP has a clear path.

The Congress’ Nilesh Kumbhani, who was initially nominated for the Surat Lok Sabha constituency, found his candidacy invalidated after alleged discrepancies were discovered in the proposers' signatures.

The Congress’ backup candidate Suresh Padsala also met the same fate, effectively removing the grand old party from the electoral contest in this key city.

The decision was announced by the district Returning Officer, Sourabh Pardhi, who noted that the signatures on the nomination forms needed to be more genuine.

The proposers denied having signed the forms themselves.

The controversy arose just after Dinesh Jodhani, the election agent for the BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal, raised objections.

In response, Kumbhani defended the authenticity of the signatures, suggesting that a handwriting expert and the signatories verify them.

Despite these efforts, the Returning Officer confirmed the rejections based on the affidavits and additional evidence presented during the scrutiny.

The Congress party, represented by its lawyer Babu Mangukiya, plans to challenge the decision in the higher courts.

Mukesh Dalal, the BJP candidate, remains a contender in Surat.

A veteran in local politics, Dalal has held significant positions, including Chairman of the Surat Municipal Corporation's Standing Committee and current General Secretary of the BJP's city unit.

His extensive experience and deep roots in the community make him a strong candidate for the seat.

Surat is responsible for three-quarters of the world's diamond cutting and polishing trade.

The Congress party, led by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, reclaimed the Surat seat in 1980 and maintained its hold in the 1984 elections.

However, the tide turned in 1989 when the BJP made its mark with Kashiram Rana securing the seat, initiating a series of victories in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2004.

In a notable 2009 election, BJP's Darshana Jardosh became the first female MP from Surat.

This constituency, which comprises Assembly seats in Olpad, Varachha Road, Surat West, Surat East, Karanj, Surat North, and Katargam, continued to favour the BJP.

In 2019, Darshana Vikram Jardosh secured a decisive win with 795,651 votes, significantly ahead of the Congress' Ashok Patel, who garnered 247,421 votes.

Similarly, in the 2014 elections, Jardosh won with 718,412 votes, while the Congress' Bhupat Bhai Desai trailed with 185,222 votes.

Surat Lok Sabha constituency has a notable political heritage, having been represented by some prominent figures.

Veteran BJP leader Kashiram Rana notably served as the MP from Surat for six terms, demonstrating the party's strong influence in the region.

Additionally, the constituency boasts a distinguished history with Morarji Desai, the 7th Prime Minister of India, who served as its MP for five terms.

Since 1989, the constituency has consistently elected BJP leaders with substantial margins.

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