‘Missing’ Congress Surat candidate whose papers cancelled may join BJP

Reports indicate that Kumbhani has been unreachable on phone and is currently missing.
Nilesh Kumbhani
Nilesh Kumbhani

AHMEDABAD: A day after the BJP’s unco tested triumph in the Surat Lok Sabha seat, Prafull Togadia, Congress’ former leader of the Opposition in Surat corporation, has suggested that Nilesh Kumbhani, the party leader whose candidature faced rejection over alleged irregularities, is likely to defect to the BJP.

Reports indicate that Kumbhani has been unreachable on phone and is currently missing. However, Togadia asserted that Kumbhani is in Goa and is expected to return to Surat after reaching a settlement with the BJP.

Togadia, speaking to this newspaper, said: “Nilesh Kumbhani is reaching out to the people of Surat, claiming he has gone to file a case in the High Court against the cancellation of his candidature. The truth is, he is in Goa, accompanied by certain BJP supporters. Nilesh will soon join the BJP. Influential diamond industrialists from Surat are working towards his induction into the BJP.”

As rumors swirl about Kumbhani’s potential defection, tensions heightened outside his residence. Congress supporters staged a protest, brandishing posters labeling him as “gaddar” (traitor).

The unfolding saga stems from the BJP’s uncontested triumph in Surat, representing their inaugural Lok Sabha victory in the area uncontested. Mukesh Dalal, the BJP’s candidate from Surat, was declared the uncontested victor.

Reports from Surat suggest that the BJP had been strategizing to secure the Surat seat. As part of this plan, a senior leader from Surat Congress acted as an intermediary to facilitate Kumbhani’s candidature. This leader collaborated with the Gujarat high command to secure the ticket for Nilesh. Kumbhani had served as a Congress corporator in the Surat Municipal Corporation. He unsuccessfully fought the 2022 assembly polls as the party’s candidate from Kamrej seat in Surat.

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