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BJP Threatening Rivals From Contesting In Polls?

Reports: BJP Sent Highest Number Of Advertisements For EC Approval

Even before the curtains were drawn on the nation’s electoral stage and a fortnight before Gujarat’s first ballot, the state sent a member to the Lok Sabha. BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal was declared Monday as the uncontested winner from Surat, as all other eight candidates withdrew after the rejection of Congress nominee Nilesh Kumbhani’s nomination the day before.
Meanwhile, in a strategic manoeuvre, the Congress party, grappling with recent setbacks, has urged voters to exercise the ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option, drawing criticism from the ruling BJP for what they deem as negative campaigning tactics.
Adding to the electoral drama, the Congress faced yet another setback as its candidate, Akshay Kanti Bam, who had been pitted against BJP’s sitting MP Shankar Lalwani, shocked the grand old party on Monday. This was the last day for withdrawing nomination after he pulled out of the race and switched over to the saffron party. Welcoming Bam into the BJP ranks, party leaders lauded his decision to align with the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other prominent figures.
In a separate electoral dispute in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna district, the cancellation of Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Meera Yadav’s nomination from Khajuraho has sparked yet another controversy. Meera’s husband, Deep Narayan Yadav, has accused the ruling BJP of a conspiracy and vows to challenge the decision in higher courts.
He said, “The nomination has been cancelled for two reasons – missing signature from a page and submitting an old voter list with the form. On Thursday, the officers did not inform us about the mistake during scrutiny. According to the rules, the candidate should be allowed to rectify the mistake, but here, the officers directly informed us about the rejection,”.
Amidst this, Comedian Shyam Rangeela, shot to fame for mimicking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced on Wednesday that he would contest the Lok Sabha elections against PM Modi in Varanasi.
Explaining why he decided to contest against PM Modi, Mr. Rangeela said “We saw what happened in Surat and Chandigarh and what is currently happening in Indore. I do not want the same situation to occur in Varanasi. Even if one person wants to vote against a candidate, they have the right to do so. Hence, I decided to contest from Varanasi.”
In recent developments from Gujarat, a video surfaced on social media capturing the emotional plea of Jitendra Chauhan, 39, from Gandhinagar. Chauhan alleged coercion by “Amit Shah’s people,” prompting him to withdraw his candidacy for the Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency. Chauhan appealed to fellow citizens, expressing fear for his life and urging them to safeguard the nation.
The following day, Chauhan withdrew from the race, citing pressure exerted by Dinesh Singh Kushwah, the BJP MLA from Bapunagar in Ahmedabad. Gandhinagar, traditionally a stronghold for the BJP, has maintained this status since 1989. Amit Shah, the incumbent Home Minister, secured a resounding victory in 2019 with a staggering margin of over 5.5 lakh votes.
As Gujarat gears up for the ongoing elections, the BJP reportedly aims to clinch all 26 seats in the state by commanding similarly significant victory margins. Shah is contesting from the state capital, Gandhinagar, with voting scheduled for the third phase on May 7.
However, amidst this electoral fervour, three candidates from Gandhinagar, including Chauhan, have come forward with allegations of intimidation and pressure to withdraw from the race. They accuse local BJP figures of coercive tactics, with two candidates even alleging interference from the Gujarat Police in their decision to step down.
Notably, 16 candidates have withdrawn from the Lok Sabha elections in Gandhinagar so far. Twelve are independent candidates, including Chauhan, while the remaining four represent minor political parties.
Chauhan’s claims extend beyond mere political coercion. He alleges offers of financial compensation and expresses concerns for his family’s welfare, particularly his three daughters. Others denied any intimidation. Their reasons for withdrawal ranged from lack of campaign funds to joining the BJP to applying purely out of research interest.
On April 20, Rajesh Maurya recalled an incident in which his phone was confiscated by a relative who was seeking to contact someone unresponsive. Maurya alleged that Jignesh and Vinod, purportedly affiliated with the BJP, were intimidating Sumitra.
However, individuals linked to other numbers cited in Maurya’s account, including a gambler, a Rajkot vegetable vendor, and an Ahmedabad resident seeking security guards, denied involvement in such intimidation efforts. The remaining individuals either did not respond or abruptly ended calls upon learning they were associated with Rajesh and Sumitra Maurya.
Despite the alleged intimidation, Sumitra Maurya remained in the Gandhinagar electoral race, while Chauhan, a videographer who documented the incident, withdrew. Chauhan, a painting entrepreneur, expressed concerns about potential repercussions on his business due to his withdrawal from politics.
He claimed that individuals from the Crime Branch shadowed him in Ahmedabad on April 21, allegedly intimidating both him and his proposers. Chauhan subsequently posted a video on Facebook detailing these events but later removed it following objections from his wife.
Another independent candidate, Jayendra Rathod, aged 40, reported pressure from former BJP MLA Ashok Patel to retract his candidacy, purportedly to avoid splitting votes favouring BJP’s Amit Shah.
Rathod, a Dalit who previously contested on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket, garnered 6,500 votes in the 2019 election but opted out of the 2024 Lok Sabha contest. Ashok Patel refuted Rathod’s allegations, claiming no knowledge of him and suggesting that Rathod must have withdrawn voluntarily.
Rathod revealed that he was urged to join the BJP, a proposition he declined. He further alleged that two independent candidates, Surendra Shah and Naresh Priyadarshi, were coerced into withdrawing from the Gandhinagar race. However, four other independent candidates who withdrew, namely Kishor Goyal, Rajnikant Patel, Makhanbhai Kaliya, and Mehbub Rangrej, denied succumbing to pressure.
Rajnikant Patel clarified that he withdrew because he realized that contesting in Gandhinagar exceeded his capabilities. Makhanbhai Kaliya, expressing admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives, stated his withdrawal was voluntary.
Mehbub Rangrej, a former state election contestant, cited advice from local Election Commission officials regarding limitations on EVMs accommodating more than 16 candidates as his reason for withdrawal, although such limitations were disputed.
Nimesh Patel of the Gunj Satya Ni Janata Party attributed his withdrawal to financial constraints. At the same time, Paresh Mulani of the Bhartiya Rashtriya Dal expressed a desire to contest in Amethi and Raebareli, prompting his withdrawal from Gandhinagar.
Chauhan reflected on the BJP’s concern over his candidacy despite facing off against the incumbent Home Minister. He emphasized that beyond winning votes, challenging such influential figures threatens their self-esteem and symbolizes a struggle against entrenched power dynamics. Chauhan lamented what he perceived as the erosion of democracy in India and the devaluation of constitutional principles.

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