Drama over Rathwa's RS nomination ends with acceptance

Gandhinagar, March 13: The high drama that unfolded over former Union Minister Naran Rathwa's nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections came to an end on Tuesday after the document was finally accepted by the Returning Officer.

The Returning Officer accepted nomination papers of seven candidates -- two of the Congress, three of the BJP, one Independent backed by the Congress, and one dummy candidate fielded by the BJP. Nomination papers of one Independent were rejected.

Elections for four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat will be held on March 23.

Senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil told the media: "In the end, it is Satyameva Jayate (victory for truth). If they (BJP) had believed in true democracy, we would not have had to spend hours in arguments. But the BJP is 'Bahut Jhoothi Party' (big lying party). The truth has finally prevailed."

Tribal leader Rathwa was found wanting in certain documents needed for filing nomination at the Gujarat Assembly premises on Monday. Just ahead of the 3 p.m. deadline, he somehow managed to furnish the required documents. All this while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party party was raising objection to his nomination.

As the Assembly session was going on, the focus of attention remained the Returning Officer's chamber as scrutiny of nomination forms began on Tuesday. 

The BJP objected to the validity of a no-dues certificate submitted by Rathwa and fielded senior leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, state unit chief Jitu Vaghani and Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, to ensure rejection of Rathwa's nomination.

The Congress fielded Leader of Opposition in Assembly Paresh Dhanani and Shaktisinh Gohil, who swung the last Rajya Sabha polls in favour of Ahmed Patel, to pursue Rathwa's case. Eventually, the Returning Officer ruled in favour of Rathwa and accepted his nomination form.

Asked if the BJP approached the Central Election Commission on the issue, Gohil said: "Let them go wherever they (BJP) want to. Ahmed Patel too had won because we were in the right." 

Vaghani said: "We are awaiting the Returning Officer's orders and will decide the next course of action after examining the document."

Earlier in the day, the Congress too raised objections to the nomination forms of BJP candidates -- Union Ministers Mansukh Mandavia and Purushottam Rupala as well as Kiritsinh Rana. However, the Returning Officer turned down the objections and accepted their nomination papers.

The Returning Officer also accepted the nomination of second official Congress candidate Ami Yagnik. 

The official also accepted the nomination of Independent candidate P.K. Valera, backed by the Congress. Among the seven nominations accepted was BJP's dummy candidate Rajnikant Patel. 

The last day of withdrawal of candidature is March 15.

The nomination of Independent Paresh Moolani was rejected since it was not backed by the statutory number of proposers.


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