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BJP candidate goes to Parl unopposed; at least 34 more have done it since 1951

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New Delhi, April 22: The BJP’s Mukesh Dalal has become the first candidate in the last 12 years to have won a Lok Sabha election unopposed. He is also perhaps the first candidate from the BJP to have ever won a parliamentary poll unopposed.
His victory from the Surat parliamentary constituency comes close on the heels of 10 BJP candidates winning uncontested in the just-held assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh.
This is the first victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the ongoing seven-phased Lok Sabha elections.
BJP contestant Dalal achieved the feat after eight candidates withdrew their nominations on Monday.
On Sunday, the nomination of Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani was rejected after a preliminary examination revealed inconsistencies in the signatures of proposers, an election official said.
Gujarat, which has 26 Lok Sabha seats, will vote on May 7.
Dalal’s achievement comes nearly 35 years after National Conference leader Mohammad Shafi Bhat was elected uncontested from Srinagar in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. In 2012, Samajwadi Party’s Dimple Yadav was elected unopposed from Kannauj in a Lok Sabha bypoll necessitated after her husband Akhilesh Yadav vacated the seat in Uttar Pradesh.
As per data available on the EC website, 25 candidates before Dalal have been elected unopposed to the Lok Sabha since the first elections in 1951, a majority of them from the Indian National Congress.
In 1951, five candidates were elected unopposed, all of them from the Congress. They represented Coimbatore (present-day Tamil Nadu), Rajagada (Odisha), Yadgir (the then-Hyderabad state), Halar (then-Saurashtra state) and Bilaspur (present-day Chhattisgarh).
In the 1957 elections, seven candidates — three from Andhra Pradesh, and one each from Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka — won unopposed. All the candidates belonged to the Congress party.
Three candidates won the Lok Sabha elections unopposed in 1962, five in 1967, one in 1971, two in 1977, one each in 1980 and 1989. National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah won from Srinagar uncontested in 1980.
Political observers opined that while winning without contesting is not a good phenomenon in a democracy, certain technical and political compulsions make it unavoidable and one cannot do much about it.
As far as the Surat Lok Sabha constituency is concerned, the BJP won it by a huge margin of more than 5 lakh votes in the last two elections, and winning the seat this time around, too, should not have been a big concern for the saffron party, said political analyst Shirish Kashikar.
“The issue is both technical and political. As an election officer, the Surat district collector rejected the nomination form of the Congress candidate. The Congress party should have taken care to ensure that the proposers were genuine,” he noted.
“Voters (in Surat) will be deprived of a choice, but looking at the trend in the last two Lok Sabha polls, when BJP candidates won by handsome margins, there was no big challenge for the BJP there so the issue (of unopposed election) is more technical than political,” Kashikar said.
Political scientist Amit Dholakia called the process of candidates getting elected uncontested as “unfortunate” for a democracy.
“Democracy is all about political competition between parties. It is not just about parties but also ideologies and programmes that people choose from. Surat is the second largest city (of Gujarat) after Ahmedabad, and people deserve to have a choice,” said Dholakia, political science professor at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara.
He said the development dents people’s trust in the Congress for the manner in which its candidate filled his nomination form which was eventually rejected. (PTI)

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