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'What can the BJP do if our opponents ran away from the Surat battlefield?'

April 26, 2024 10:19 IST
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'Can we force somebody to contest and fight an election when they don't want to contest an election?'

IMAGE: The Bharatiya Janata Party's Narendra D Modi with the BJP's Sagar candidate Lata Wankhede at an election meeting in Sagar, April 24, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Mukesh Dalal, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate who won the Surat Lok Sabha election unopposed, stridently defends his victory even as he squarely blames the Congress for surrendering meekly in Surat.

"It is because of the Congress's cowardice that the voters of Surat won't get a chance this time to exercise their voting rights. Congress should accept the blame for being cowards," Dalal tells Prasanna D Zore/

How are you feeling now that you have become the first victorious MP of the 2024 Lok Sabha election that was won without Surat's 18 lakh voters casting their votes?

I am very much happy for the fact that the first BJP lotus bloomed in Gujarat and that too in Surat. I dedicate my victory at the lotus feet of honourable Narendra Modi saheb. Surat has done its duty of fulfilling Prime Minister Modi's 400 plus seats target.

No election campaign, no voting, no way of finding out how popular you and Narendra Modi and the BJP are in Surat in 2024. Isn't this an incomplete victory?

The BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in the 2019 election; this time too BJP leaders are confident that history will repeat itself. Shouldn't the next winner of Surat have been decided by the ballot?

What can the BJP do about it? What can the BJP do if our opponents ran away from the Surat battlefield? If they have surrendered their weapons and cowed away from contesting against Narendra Modi's BJP, then what can we do?

It is not our fault. We were very well prepared for the contest. We had almost completed 40 days of campaigning and had connected with 70 per cent of Surat's voters. I had met my voters three times.

The Congress was confident that if people got a chance to elect their candidate in Surat through voting, then they would have had to forfeit their deposit. That's why they very smartly found a safe, backdoor, exit.

The Congress is alleging that BJP has a role to play in the way the returning officer cancelled Nilesh Kumbhani's nomination and the subsequent withdrawal of seven Independent candidates against you from Surat.
They are saying that the BJP used threats and lure to make this happen.

The Congress is well known for indulging in such negative, dirty tactics since India's Independence. Without paying attention to such baseless charges, the BJP is marching ahead towards 400 plus seats in 2024.

With Prime Minister Modiji's performance in the last 10 years, the BJP's victory in Surat was already sealed. None of the BJP's local leaders had much work to do. We would have won by a margin of tens of lakhs of votes.

The Independents decided that they should help Narendra Modi and help him realise his vision of a Viksit Bharat.

That's what makes it so surprising that all seven Independents withdrew their candidature. The Congress is saying that crime branch officers from Surat went to Vadodara and brought the BSP candidate to Surat the same night so that he could withdraw his nomination.

They have nothing else to save their faces and standing before the voters of Surat and people of Gujarat. They are trying to do that by levelling baseless allegations against us.

Given the popularity that you are claiming the BJP to have in Surat, wouldn't you think that the voters of Surat were denied an opportunity to publicly show how much they disliked programmes listed in the Congres manifesto?

If anybody is responsible for this situation, then it is the Congress.

When the Congress can't find even four sincere proposers to stand firm on their affidavits do you think the people of India will trust Rahul Gandhi's claims that his party (and the INDIA alliance) will form the next government?

Fearing the growing popularity of Narendrabhai Modi in Surat they realised that they stand no chance against the BJP in Surat and Gujarat.

The Congress was in complete disarray and in their bewilderment they decided that the safest way to save their face would be to work towards a situation that would avoid going to the people of Surat.

It is because of the Congress's cowardice that the voters of Surat won't get a chance this time to exercise their voting rights. The Congress should accept the blame for being cowards.

IMAGE: Mukesh Dalal, left, the BJP candidate from Surat, with the BJP's Gujarat president C R Paatil. Photograph: Kinde courtesy @janak_bagdana/X

Would you think that the people of Surat would have got a chance to cast their votes if the seven Independents had not withdrawn and the BJP would have got a chance to show how popular Narendra Modi was in Surat?

When these Independents understood how visionary Narendrabhai's 2047 Mission of Viksit Bharat is, they thought it was better to be a part of this vision and support him in fulfilling his dream.

They are also supporting Narendrabhai's avowed goal of making India the third largest economy in the world. If they withdrew citing this reason, then what can anybody do about there being no election held in Surat?

You have stated that the Modi community in Gujarat and Surat are very angry with Rahul Gandhi's statement that allegedly insulted the Modi community.
Don't you think if Nilesh Kumbhani's nomination was not cancelled, then the people of Surat, the people belonging to the Modi community in Surat would have got a chance to teach Rahul Gandhi a lesson through the ballot box?

That the people of not just Surat or Gujarat, but entire India will teach Rahul Gandhi a lesson on June 4 is as obvious as sunrise or sunset. That is the reason their strategy was to find a backdoor exit and avoid facing the electorate in Surat.

The entire OBC community in India and the Modi community in Gujarat will definitely make Rahul Gandhi pay for his insulting remarks against the community through the ballot. The Congress clearly knew this was coming in Surat so it surrendered without any fight.

The Congress calls your Surat victory a murder of democracy. They are charging that the BJP has manipulated the entire election machinery to check how people of India would react to an experiment of 'one nation, no election.'

I can't believe this! Did they call it murder of democracy when since Independence more than 20 of their candidates were elected unopposed? Isn't the Congress being selective with such charges and negativity?

But aren't the circumstances in which Surat went the BJP's way casting doubt about your victory?
Like Nilesh Kumbhani's vanishing act since the day his nomination was cancelled.
Like Kumbhani's proposers filing affidavits saying that they did not sign Kumbhani's election affidavit.
Like the withdrawal of the seven Independent candidates in your favour.

Like the entire country, the people of Surat and Gujarat too don't take Rahul Gandhi's baseless allegations seriously. Only Rahul Gandhi and the Gandhi parivar is responsible for the misfortune that has befallen on the Congress and their dwindling electoral fortunes today.

Are the voters of Surat happy knowing that they will not be allowed to exercise their Constitutional right of electing their representative this time?

Only the Congress is responsible for this.

Wouldn't the BJP have gained the moral ground if they had convinced the Independents to not withdraw from the race and allowed the election to happen?

Can we force somebody to contest and fight an election when they don't want to contest an election? It is absolutely wrong to say that the BJP threatened or enticed these Independents and Nilesh Kumbhani to work for their nomination cancellation or withdrawal.

India has no alternative to Narendrabhai and the BJP will fulfill his dream of winning 400 plus seats in a grand manner. No force can stop Narendrabhai and the BJP from taking India to greater heights of glory.

The Congress has appealed to the Election Commission to suspend your victory. It is also saying that it will approach the Gujarat high court or Supreme Court if they don't get a fair response from the Election Commission. Is the BJP ready for such a challenge?

Let the Congress appeal to whoever they want. It is their right and they are free to knock at anybody's door that they want. We are not stopping them.

The BJP has never shied away from facing any challenge. We are always ready.

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