In an unprecedented turn of events, Mukesh Kumar Dalal, the BJP candidate from Surat Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat, became the first candidate to be elected to the 18th Lok Sabha after he was declared “elected uncontested” much before polling took place in Gujarat. This happened after all the candidates in the fray, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate, withdrew their nominations.

Dalal (62), a resident of Adajan in Surat city and associated with the textile industry, was the only candidate from the Surat Lok Sabha seat after 8 other candidates withdrew on the last day of withdrawal of nominations. The Surat seat got mired in controversy a day ago after the nomination forms of the Congress candidate got rejected when all three of his proposers claimed in an affidavit to the district election officer that they had not signed his nomination form.

Effortless victory

The social media handles of Gujarat unit of BJP were the first to announce the victory of the party candidate from Surat. Gujarat BJP President CR Patil, while speaking to media later, said, “After the nomination forms of Congress candidate and the party’s dummy candidate were rejected, leading BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal and 8 others were in the race. After all eight candidates withdrew their candidature, the Surat district collector declared Mukesh Dalal as elected unopposed.” Paatil described Dalal’s election as the first victory for BJP, which has targeted winning 400 seats during the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Of the 8 candidates who withdrew their nominations include Pyarelal Bharti of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Abdul Hamid Khan of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Party, Soheil Shekh of Log Party, Jayeshbhai Mevada of Global Republican Party and Independent candidates including Bharatbhai Prajapati, Ajitsinh Umat, Kishorbhai Dayani and Parsottambhai Bariya. Congress is fighting the Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

A total of 24 nomination forms were filed in the Surat seat, of which 12 got rejected, including the three nomination forms filed by Congress candidate Nileshbhai Kumbhani from Surat. Even the nomination form of Suresh Padsala, a dummy candidate for Kumbhani, got rejected.

Among the other nomination forms that were rejected was the one filed by Janak Kumar Kachhadiya, the BJP’s dummy candidate.

Meanwhile, a Congress delegation met with the Election Commission on Monday. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was part of the delegation, said, “Four proposers of the Congress candidate from Surat claim that the signatures on the nomination forms of the Congress candidate are not theirs. The candidate from Surat also disappears briefly. All the other candidates remaining in the fray also withdraw. We have never seen this happen before. So we have told the EC that it has become a non-level playing field and elections in Surat should be suspended. A new date for polls in Surat should be declared so that a clear message goes out.”

The remaining 25 of the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat will go to the polls on May 7 in the third phase of Lok Sabha polls.