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Gujarat RS bypolls: Papers of Jaishankar, others accepted

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Press Trust of India Gandhinagar
Nomination papers filed for next month's Rajya Sabha bypolls in Gujarat by two BJP and as many Congress candidates, including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, were accepted by election authorities after scrutiny Wednesday.
The returning officer for the July 5 Rajya Sabha by- elections for two seats, however, rejected the candidature of a Karnataka resident, who claimed to be a BJP nominee, for failing to produce valid papers to back his claim.
The bypolls on the two seats were necessitated after sitting BJP MPs, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, had resigned after their election to the Lok Sabha last month from Gandhinagar and Amethi, respectively.
While the BJP has fielded Jaishankar and OBC leader Juglaji Thakor, the Congress has nominated Chandrika Chudasama and Gaurav Pandya for the bypolls in which Gujarat MLAs will vote.
Their nomination papers were found to be in order, an official said.
Along with them, two "dummy" BJP candidates - A P Shah and Kiritsinh Rana - had also filed their papers before returning officer C B Pandya Tuesday.
For the seat vacated by Shah, the contest will be between Jaishankar and Gaurav Pandya, while the one vacated by Irani will see a fight between Thakor and Chudasama.
"We have accepted the nominations of all the six candidates, including the two dummy candidates of the BJP, following a scrutiny today.
"The last date for the withdrawal of forms in June 28. Voting for the two seats will be held between 9 am and 4 pm on July 5. The counting will be conducted at 5 pm (the same day)," C B Pandya said.
"We have rejected the candidature of one Deepak Gangaram Katakdhond, a resident of Karnataka. He had submitted his nomination claiming to be a candidate of the BJP.
"However, he failed to produce any authorisation letter from the party. Signatures of 10 proposers (MLAs) were also missing in his form. Thus, we have rejected his nomination," said the officer.
Given its strength in the 182-member Assembly, the BJP is set to win both the seats for which voting will be held separately as per the Election Commissions (EC) notification.
Upset over the EC notification, the Congress had moved the Supreme Court seeking its direction to the poll body to hold the elections to the two seats together as this gives a chance to the opposition party to win at least one seat.
However, the apex court Tuesday rejected the Congress's plea.
According to the returning officer, three MLAs will not be able to cast their vote in the by-elections as they were disqualified for various reasons in the recent past.
These legislators are Pabubha Manek (BJP), Bhagwan Barad (Congress) and Bhupendra Khant (independent).
Barad, who won from the Talala seat, was disqualified by Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi in March after he was convicted and sentenced to over two years in jail in an illegal mining case.
Khant, who won from the Morva Hadaf (ST) seat, was disqualified by Governor O P Kohli in May for submitting an invalid caste certificate for contesting election from the assembly segment reserved for the tribal community.
In April, the Gujarat High Court had invalidated the election of Manek from the Dwarka Assembly seat for submitting a defective nomination form.
"A total of 175 legislators are now qualified to exercise their franchise. The BJP's strength stands at 100, followed by 71 MLAs of the Congress.
"Other MLAs include two from the Bharatiya Tribal Party, one from the NCP and one independent (Jignesh Mevani).
"Four seats are still vacant as the sitting MLAs had got elected to the Lok Sabha and gave their resignations recently," said C B Pandya.
Since elections on the two seats will be held separately, a candidate needs to garner a simple 50 per cent majority to win, the returning officer explained.
"Suppose all MLAs turn up for election and all votes are valid, then a candidate needs 88 votes to secure victory," he added.

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First Published: Jun 26 2019 | 9:40 PM IST

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