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Surat Congress leader Nilesh Kumbhani ‘vanishes’ amid election controversy

Surat, April 23, 2024
Congress leader Nilesh Kumbhani from Surat, whose Lok Sabha candidacy was recently cancelled due to inconsistencies in his nomination form, seems to have ‘vanished’ into thin air.

Kumbhani is not reachable on phone, raising alarms within his party and among his followers.

The development follows the Election Commission declaring BJP’s Mukesh Dalal as the unopposed winner from the Surat Lok Sabha seat after all the other candidates withdrew their nominations.

“Kumbhani is neither at his home, nor is he taking calls. He also didn’t contact any party workers since the election of Mukesh Dalal,” a Congress worker said.

After rumors that Kumbhani may switch allegiance to the BJP, several Congress supporters staged a demonstration outside his residence with posters labeling him a “betrayer of the people”.

Recently, the Returning Officer (RO), Surat Collector Sourabh Pardhi, rejected the nomination of Kumbhani and his substitute candidate due to alleged discrepancies in the signatures of their proposers.

The candidatures were dismissed under Section 36(2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which permits the RO to examine and reject nominations based on valid objections.

The situation escalated after eight other candidates, including Pyarelal Bharati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), withdrew their nominations under unclear circumstances, leaving Dalal as the lone contender.

The series of withdrawals prompted allegations of foul play, with Gujarat Congress chief Shaktisinh Gohil claiming that Kumbhani’s nomination was sabotaged by the BJP as he described the incident as a “murder of democracy”.(Agency)

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