Plea in SC seeks to postpone Gautam Buddh Nagar polls, hearing tomorrow

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to hear a petition demanding postponement of polling for the Gautam Buddh Nagar constituency in view of the Congress candidate crossing over to the BJP merely a week before voting.

A bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam fixed the petition, filed by two Noida residents, for hearing on April 9, just a day before voting in the constituency, after they sought an urgent hearing.

Senior advocate Jitendra Mohan Sharma mentioned the matter before the court, pleading for indulgence by the court in view of the urgency of the matter.

Petitioners Mukesh Yadav and Vikram Singh Kasana claimed that the Election Commission did not consider their representation for adjourning the election on the ground that voters in the constituency would be deprived of a fair choice and those, who have political affiliation to Congress party, will be denied their statutory right of casting vote in its favour.

The petitioners contended Ramesh Chand Tomar, an official candidate of the Indian National Congress (INC), joined the BJP in presence of the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during a rally on April 3.

“He campaigned as an official candidate for more than eight days after the expiry of date of withdrawal,” they said.

Tomar had renounced his candidature, which resulted in denial of Congress party voters of their Constitutional right, the petition read. This could be treated as sufficient cause to adjourn the polls under Section 57 of the Representation of People Act, the petitioners claimed.

The petition said the EC should be ordered to re-notify the election for the parliamentary constituency of Gautam Buddh Nagar so that voters exercise their franchise in an effective manner.

With his exodus, Ramesh Chand Tomar had left the Congress in a peculiar situation in Gautam Buddh Nagar. While the party lost its candidate, it could not have a replacement because the last date for nominations was over when he quit. But because the last date for withdrawals is also over, Tomar’s name will appear on the electronic voting machine next to the Congress’s hand symbol, and he will be in the race when the constituency votes on April 10.

Tomar was the BJP member from Hapur for four consecutive terms from 1991.

He lost the 2004 election for the seat, and joined the Congress in 2009 after the BJP ticket for Ghaziabad — which replaced Hapur after delimitation — went to Rajnath Singh. He contested the Gautam Buddh Nagar seat for the Congress but came fourth in a four-cornered contest.

Last month, retired IAS officer Bhagirath Prasad Singh joined the BJP just a day after the Congress announced he would be its candidate from Bhind in Madhya Pradesh.

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