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  Opinion   Edit  24 Apr 2024  AA Edit | Unopposed poll victories not good for democracy

AA Edit | Unopposed poll victories not good for democracy

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 25, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Apr 25, 2024, 12:00 am IST

Surat Election Rendered Moot as BJP Candidate Mukesh Dalal Declared Winner Amid Controversy Over Invalid Candidacy of Other Nominees

Surat: BJP leader Mukesh Dalal receives the 'certificate of election' after he was elected unopposed from Surat Lok Sabha seat, in Surat. (Image: PTI)
 Surat: BJP leader Mukesh Dalal receives the 'certificate of election' after he was elected unopposed from Surat Lok Sabha seat, in Surat. (Image: PTI)

Even though only one phase of the Lok Sabha election is over as yet, and several phases remain, the Bharatiya Janata Party has won its first seat — in Surat where its candidate Mukesh Dalal was declared a winner from the seat, unopposed.

This was rendered inevitable after the Election Commission found the official nomination paper filed by Nilesh Kumbhani, the Congress candidate, and the alternate one he submitted subsequently, both invalid and declared his candidature void, following which all of the eight other candidates in the fray withdrew their nominations. It is neither clear, nor ascertainable beyond doubt, as to why they did, making the election for the Surat Lok Sabha seat moot.

Interestingly, the last candidate who withdrew from the electoral fight was not an Independent but a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate, Pyarelal Bharati. This has denied the over 16.50 lakh voter of Surat a chance to participate as voters in the great festival of democracy.

While the BJP was delighted and congratulated itself, as when its state party boss C.R. Patil tweeted, “…Surat offered first lotus to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congratulations to Surat Lok Sabha candidate Mukeshbhai Dalal for being elected unopposed”, no one gave any thought to the voters whose fingers won’t be inked this time. The rest of Gujarat would go to polls only as part of Phase III.

While it is a rare if not a black swan event for anyone to win a Lok Sabha seat uncontested, the trend of several candidates winning in other elections without any polling is not unheard of. Historically, while this was found to happen in the early phase of democracy, with 10 of the 23 candidates ever elected to Lok Sabha since Independence happening in the elections in the 1950s, this is still the first time a BJP leader got elected unopposed to the Lower House.

A few weeks ago, in the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly polls, too, the BJP won 10 Assembly seats without a contest, when on March 30 the Election Commission declared them winners. Interestingly, the all-time single Assembly record for maximum winners without an election is held by the Congress Party in Arunachal, when its 11 candidates won a decade ago.

This time, the unopposed winners included chief minister Pema Khandu, deputy CM Chowna Mein and eight other MLA candidates.

Again, CM Khandu celebrated the event attributing it to “…because of people’s love and trust in #ModiKiGuarantee and our dedication in ensuring all-round development of the state”.

Thankfully, there were elections to the remaining 50 seats of the 60-member state Assembly, and the two Lok Sabha seats.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was critical of the Surat development, saying, “…taking away rights of people to elect a leader is another step towards ending the Constitution framed by Babasaheb Ambedkar”.

Sadly, not many people reacted with rightful consternation to the growing trend of having elections without voting. It is time the Election Commission and lawmakers make it mandatory for polls to be held, if only six months later, in such circumstances.

 

Tags: 2024 lok sabha elections, surat seat, unopposed win, election commission, bjp victory