In a dramatic chain of events, Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Surat East Kanchan Zariwala appeared before an election official and withdrew his nomination on Wednesday, more than 12 hours after he along with his family allegedly went missing.
On Wednesday morning, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and other senior leaders alleged that Zariwala was being pressurised by the ruling BJP to withdraw his nomination.
“Our candidate from Surat (East), Kanchan Jariwala, and his family missing since yesterday. First, BJP tried to get his nomination rejected. But his nomination was accepted. Later, he was pressurised to withdraw his nomination. Has he been kidnapped?” Kejriwal tweeted.
Meanwhile, AAP leaders accused the BJP of threatening and forcing Zariwala to withdraw his candidature.
Notably, AAP sprung a surprise in Gujarat by winning 27 seats in the Surat Municipal Corporation elections in February this year.
In a video released by AAP, Zariwala can be seen jostling with policemen and some other people, presumably AAP workers, at the office of the returning officer in Surat.
Kejriwal’s party has claimed that its candidate was forced “at gunpoint” by the “state machinery” to pressurise him for taking back his nomination.
Addressing a press conference, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that Zariwala was “kidnapped” at the behest of the BJP, which he said, was staring at a possible defeat in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Yesterday, Zariwala was seen at the RO office where he had gone for the scrutiny of his document. The BJP goons had forced him to withdraw his nominations but he refused to do so. Later, he went missing. Now his mobile phone is switched off,” Sisodia said in the morning.
Terming the incident a “kidnapping of democracy”, Sisodia said the party will approach the Election Commission of India. He later led an AAP delegation to the commission office but they were not allowed to enter the office. In protest, party leaders staged a demonstration and raised slogans against the saffron party.
Later, senior officials informed him that he would be allowed to meet the chief election commissioner after the lunch break on Wednesday.
Even as AAP leaders waited to meet the commissioner, Zariwala appeared at the returning office and withdrew his nomination. Reacting to the development, Sisodia said: “He was kidnapped by BJP goons to pressurise him for withdrawing his nomination and that is what has happened.”
“Watch how police and BJP goons together – dragged our Surat East candidate Kanchan Jariwala to the RO office, forcing him to withdraw his nomination. The term ‘free and fair election’ has become a joke!” AAP MP Raghav Chadha tweeted along with the video.