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BJP moves EC against Cong's Rajya Sabha nominee in Gujarat


The BJP on Tuesday approached the Election Commission demanding that the nomination of Congress leader Naranbhai Rathwa for the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat be quashed because of several irregularities in his form.

Piyush Goyal

A delegation of senior party leaders, including Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Piyush Goyal, went to the Commission tonight, seeking action against Rathwa and P K Valera, a Congress-backed independent candidate.

Naqvi said they have demanded that the Congress candidate's nomination be quashed.

"He has hidden several information, including those regarding criminal cases against him. He has also not submitted due no-objection certificates," he said.

Goyal said the BJP delegation informed the EC about "irregularities" in nomination forms of Rathwa and also Valera.

The BJP's complaint ahead of the biennial polls to the Upper House on March 23 marks yet another instance of its all out attack on the opposition party over a Rajya Sabha election as it had earlier targeted its senior leader Ahmed Patel during polls last year.

Both the BJP and the Congress had then approached the EC a number of times. Patel had won in a hard-fought battle.

The BJP's complaint today followed its whip Suresh Angadi's complaint to the Lok Sabha Speaker, alleging "gross irregularities" in granting several no objection certificates given to Rathwa.

In a letter seeking an investigation, Angadi said he was given seven NOCs within 40-50 minutes yesterday and wondered if any verification was carried out.

Sources said the Speaker's office has ordered an enquiry into the matter.

Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said a no-dues certificate was issued to Rathwa at 3.30 PM yesterday by the Lok Sabha secretariat, an hour after he filed his nomination papers along with a "fake certificate".

"We objected to the papers submitted by Rathwa during the scrutiny process of Rajya Sabha forms. Rathwa had served as a central minister and the no-dues certificate he submitted was a fake one," alleged Vaghani.

However, the Congress dismissed the allegations as baseless and claimed that the returning officer accepted Rathwa's nomination papers after scrutiny today.

"The objections raised by the BJP during the scrutiny process of our Rajya Sabha candidates lack substance. The RO over-ruled the BJP's objections to approve Rathwa's candidature," said Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil.

A total of seven candidates have filed nomination papers for four seats falling vacant from the state for March 23 Rajya Sabha elections.

The BJP has fielded Union ministers Purshottam Rupala, Mansukh Mandavia, and former MLA Kiritsinh Rana, while the Congress nominated Amiben Yagnik and Naran Rathwa. The Congress also extended support to independent candidate PK Valera, who is a Congress general secretary in the state unit.

Extending support to Valera is seen as a tactical move of the Congress to save its second seat in case there is any threat to Rathwa's candidature.

In the 182-member House, the ruling BJP has 99 MLAs while the opposition Congress 77. Both the parties are in a position to send two candidates each to the Rajya Sabha, as the minimum number of votes required per candidate is 37.


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