New Delhi: The Election Commission has forced sacked BSF soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav to sit out of the Lok Sabha race.
Yadav had earlier announced his candidature against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi on April 24. The Samajwadi Party subsequently extended their support to him on April 29 by making him their official candidate.
The Returning Officer today rejected his nomination, as Yadav has not submitted a certificate from the Election Commission stating that he had not been dismissed from service due to “corruption or impropriety”.
Yadav was qualified to contest the elections as he had been dismissed from the BSF on disciplinary grounds, but was told at the eleventh hour that he needed a ‘clearance’ certificate from the EC.
Told to procure clearance certificate from EC only on Tuesday
It was only on Tuesday that the Returning Officer of Varanasi issued a notice to Yadav seeking an explanation about the alleged discrepancies in the nomination papers filed for the seat.
Varanasi Assistant RO Rajesh Kumar was quoted saying that the notice was served on Yadav since “he has not taken permission from ECI regarding contesting polls, which needs to be taken in case a government official who has been removed or suspended wants to contest polls.”
But, as Yadav pointed out, the clarification should have been sought earlier when he had filed his first nomination as an independent on April 24.
Legal expert says he should have filed EC certificate along with nomination
Former legal adviser to Election Commission S.K. Mendiratta said “as per law, at the time of filing the nomination paper, the candidate is also supposed to file a certificate from the Election Commission stating that he may have been dismissed from service but it was not due to ‘corruption or impropriety’. It is provided in law that if you do not attach that certificate with the nomination paper then the Returning Officer cannot accept the nomination paper.”
Mendiratta said, “Yadav’s problem is that he did not attach the certificate till the end. So procedurally, the Returning Officer was right in rejecting the nomination.”
He explained that it is “written in Section 33 (c) sub section 3 that that if you do not provide the certificate then you are not deemed to be duly nominated.”
So the question here is also why Yadav was not properly advised when he was filing his nomination.
Yadav accuses BJP of putting obstacles in his nomination process
At the District Collectorate in Varanasi, Yadav accused the BJP of putting up hurdles in the nomination process to “prevent” him from contesting the polls. He attributed this to his earlier claim that he was the ‘asli chowkidar’ (real watchman) while Modi was the ‘naqli chowkidar’ (fake watchman).
“I am being stopped from fighting elections as the ‘nakli chowkidar’ of the country is afraid of the ‘asli chowkidar’,” Yadav alleged.
After the EC’s notice, Yadav, who was declared the candidate by SP-BSP-RLD combine, tried hard to procure the EC clearance within the short span of time he was given – till 11 this morning. He said: “We were asked to reply by 11 am today. My counsel has given all the answers, correspondences with the Election Commission (EC) to the RO’s office. An NOC (no-objection certificate) is needed from the BSF, as to on what grounds I was dismissed.”
However, as he could not procure the NOC, the nomination was rejected. But Yadav he was “asked to produce the evidence at 6.15 pm yesterday” and despite his doing so, the nomination was rejected. He termed the Election Commission’s decision “wrong” and “dictatorial”. He also declared that he would go to the Supreme Court for relief.
Akhilesh says BJP not prepared to take on soldier who complained about food
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has said that the BJP was not prepared to take on ‘real soldier’ Yadav, who was dismissed from the BSF for using the social media to raise the issue of poor quality food being served to soldiers.
“When they are asking for votes in the name of nationalism, they should have faced a soldier. People who dismissed him from his job because he complained about food, how can those people be called real patriots?” he asked.
Incidentally, the former BSF soldier’s nomination had attracted a lot of attention. Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party, who had contested opposite Modi in 2014 and secured over two lakh votes, also backed his candidature.
Rashtriya Janata Dal had issued a tweet in his favour: “Vote for the soldiers directly – in Varanasi… If your patriotism is not hollow”.
It now appears that SP will have to go back to its earlier candidate, Shalini Yadav, who it had said would step in as a back-up candidate in the event of any problem with the ex-soldier’s nomination.
(With inputs from agencies)