Eight Congress candidates withdrew their nomination papers for the Junagadh Municipal Corporation polls in Gujarat on Tuesday, allowing three Bharatiya Janata Party candidates to be elected unopposed, The Indian Express reported.
The Congress alleged its candidates were under pressure from the BJP, a claim the saffron party has denied. Polling for 59 seats in 15 administrative wards of Junagadh Municipal Corporation is scheduled for July 21 and votes will be counted on July 23.
All candidates of the Congress for Ward 3 withdrew their nominations on Tuesday, the last day to withdraw papers. Hasina Pathan, Manaz Bloch, Aslam Kureshi and Akram Kureshi of the Congress withdrew their nominations at the office of the returning officer.
This left only BJP candidates Nisha Karia, Abbas Kureshi and Sharifa Kureshi in the fray for three seats and they were declared winners. “The fourth seat in this election will remain vacant as there is no valid contestant post withdrawal of papers by Congress nominees,” an unidentified election officer said.
Congress candidates for one seat each in Ward 9 and 10 and for two seats in Ward 13 also withdrew their nominations. The party has candidates for 51 out of 59 seats.
The Congress accused the BJP of playing a role in the withdrawal of its candidates. “Our candidates were under pressure from the BJP to withdraw their nomination papers,” Hemang Vasavada, Congress leader in charge of the Junagadh civic polls said. “It is a pressure tactic by the BJP.”
Nitin Bhardwaj, BJP leader in charge of the civic polls, rejected the accusation. “The BJP absolutely has no role to play in Congress candidates withdrawing their nomination papers,” he said. “Did anyone see any BJP leaders leading Congress candidates when they withdrew their candidature? They entered the election battle out of their free will and opted out of the contest out of their free will.”
The BJP has won three seats uncontested and will contest the remaining 56 seats. The Nationalist Congress Party will contest 25 seats while the Bahujan Samaj Party will contest only one seat as all other candidates were rejected. In all, 159 candidates, including 23 independents, are left in the fray.