Updated: February 9, 2021 1:01:05 am
The election officer of Ward 15 of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on Monday rejected the nomination of Dipak Shrivastav, two-term corporator and son of Waghodia BJP MLA Madhu Shrivastav, who filed his nomination from the seat as an independent candidate, under the provision to disqualify candidates with more than two living biological children.
Two more candidates’ nominations were rejected on the same ground, one more in Vadodara and another in Rajkot.
Dipak filed nomination as an independent after the BJP denied him a ticket. He has three children, including one “adopted” by his father, just before the polls were announced, in an apparent bid to find a way around the law.
High drama ensued at the election office in Vadodara on Monday morning when BJP candidate Ashish Joshi, who has replaced Shrivastav as the party’s choice, raised objection to Dipak’s candidature.
Joshi contended that Dipak submitted a false affidavit, in which he stated the names of only two of children in an attempt to “mislead” the election office.
As the election officer slated a hearing for afternoon, MLA Madhu Shrivastav and Dipak Shrivastav, along with their supporters gathered at the District Development Office, with the MLA threatening to file defamation suit against “anyone speaking of three biological children” of his son.
In his order, the election officer said, “As per the evidence produced by the advocates representing the candidate and the contender, the following facts came to light that Dipak Shrivastav has three biological children — Krisha Shrivastav (born in August 2012), Prathishtha Shrivastav (born in May 2017) and Dhiraj Shrivastav (born in October 2020).”
The order added that although both Pratishtha and Dhiraj were born after the previous civic polls in 2015, it was only in December 2020 that Pratishtha was “given away in adoption” to Dipak’s father Madhu Shrivastav.
The order states, “Shrivastav has not mentioned his second-born, Pratishtha, among the names of his children in his affidavit filed before the election office on February 6. However, the records of the Vadodara Municipal Corporations’s Birth and Death Registration office show Dipak Shrivastav as the father of Pratishtha Shrivastav. However, the candidate has presented a registered document stating that his father Madhu Shrivastav is the father of Pratishtha Shrivastav by legal adoption…”
The order of the Election Officer cites Section 10 of the Gujarat Provisional Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, which was amended on August 4, 2015 and has laid down that any candidate who has more than two living biological children, must be disqualified from contesting polls. “Therefore, after viewing the evidence placed on record, the nomination form of Dipak Shrivastav has been considered invalid,” it said.
The order came as a set back to Shrivastav, who had been sulking since the time the party denied him a ticket. Senior BJP leaders said that the reason for excluding Dipak Shrivastav from the list of candidates was the birth of his third biological child in October 2020.
Dipak Shrivastav and Madhu Shrivastav were not reachable for comment after the order.
Another independent candidate, Viren Rami, who was a sitting corporator from VMC Ward 9 in the previous board, was also disqualified after BJP candidate Shrirang Ayare — son of heavyweight Rajesh Ayare — contended that Rami had falsely stated names only of two biological children.
Rami contended that his first child from his previous marriage was now in the custody of his ex-wife and her new family and, therefore, could not be counted as his “biological child”. The two children listed as his biological children are from his current marriage, Rami said.
The election officer, however, turned down his argument stating Section 10 of the Act, which “does not provide any exceptions to living biological children — estranged or not”, thus invalidating the nomination.
In Rajkot the nomination papers of Naran Savseta( 56), Congress candidate for Ward No.4 of Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) were rejected on the ground of having three children. Savseta has two daughters and a son, two of them having been born in 2007 and 2010.
“I was not aware of this provision… learnt about this after I filed my nomination. Therefore, I prepared a sworn affidavit to withdraw my candidature and instead treat Ram Zilariya, my dummy candidate as the official candidate. The returning office agreed and Zilariya’s candidature has been accepted,” said Savseta, who has studied till Class 6, said.
Savseta said that his first daughter was born in 1991. “I married first in 1989 and we had our first daughter in 1991. Later we got divorced and my wife got the custody of our daughter. I married for the second time in 2007 and was blessed by a son in 2008. In 2010, we had a daughter,” said Savseta, a transporter by profession.
Dilip Arya, returning officer for RMC Ward No. 4, said, “Savseta submitted an affidavit declaring that the affidavit he had previously submitted with his nomination papers was erroneous. In the previous affidavit, he had stated that he had two children. But in the latest affidavit, he submitted that he had three children and therefore was ineligible to contest polls. He requested that his candidature be rejected and we did accordingly,” Arya said, adding he accepted Savseta’s affidavit on Monday.
One more Congress candidate Bharat Ahir alias Bharat Shiyar, for RMC Ward No. 1 was rejected for submitting a blank party mandate, and another Congress candidate’s nomination in Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) was rejected as his name differed in the party mandate.
“During scrutiny of papers, we noticed that party mandate attached to the nomination papers of Shiyar was blank. Congress had submitted party mandates of all its 12 candidates for Ward No.1 to Ward No.3 together at 2.55 pm on Saturday, the last date of filing nomination papers and there is no provision to allow a candidate an opportunity to furnish additional documents during scrutiny. Therefore, his candidature was rejected,” returning officer Pooja Jotaniya told The Indian Express.
Ashok Dangar, president of Congress’ Rajkot city unit, claimed Shiyar’s candidature was rejected due to variations in his names in electoral roles and his popular name. “He is popularly known as Bharat Ahir in the city and we had issued mandate in that name. However, in the voters’ list, he is enlisted as Bharat Shiyar. Therefore, his candidature has been rejected,” said Dangar.
However, Shiyar said, “ I checked thrice and found that the mandate was blank. It was neither in the name of Bharat Ahir or Bharat Shiyar… I filed my nomination on Saturday and the party president had arranged to submit party mandates to the office of returning officer separately. I never got a chance to check the mandate.”
In Jamnagar, nomination papers of Deven Bipin Shah, Congress candidate for Ward No.9 of JMC were rejected due to difference in names of party mandate to contest election and other papers he had submitted to the returning officer.
“In the mandate, Deven’s father’s name was written as the first name. We admit, this was a mistake on our part but it was not a grave one warranting rejection of papers filed by our candidates. We are thinking of moving court against the returning officer’s decision,” Virendrasinh Jadeja, president of Jamnagar city unit of Congress said.
Nomination of Jyotsana Solanki, another Congress candidate for Ward No.9 of JMC, were not accepted on Saturday after she turned up at the office of the returning officer minutes past 3 pm Saturday, the deadline to file nomination. Monday’s rejection of Shah’s candidature leaves only 62 candidates in the fray for election to 64 seats of JMC.
Ex-FRC member cleared
The nominations of BJP candidate Keyur Rokadia from Ward 8 , who was a member of the Fee Regulation Committee (FRC) in Vadodara, was cleared despite an objection raised by independent candidate Swejal Vyas from the same ward.
Vyas had contended that Rokadia “subverted the process to detach himself from the FRC committee and, therefore, amounted to conflict of interest as he held an office of profit”.
Rokadia, who is contesting his first election, had filed his nomination on February 5, hours after submitting a resignation from the FRC to the Secretary of the state Education Department.
Hearing the contention, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate informed Vyas that the election office had suo motu verified the resignation and received an “email” response from the Education Department confirming the resignation. Rokadia’s nomination was cleared thereafter.
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