Surat: Suspended Nilesh Kumbhani returns, says 'Congress betrayed me first' | 5 quotes

Kumbhani said he was denied a ticket during 2017 assembly polls at the last minute

Suspended Congress leader Nilesh Kumbhani has opened up after going incommunicado from Surat 20 days ago [File] Suspended Congress leader from Surat Nilesh Kumbhani

Nilesh Kumbhani, the suspended Congress leader whose nomination rejection resulted in BJP winning the Surat Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat unopposed, has reappeared and opened up after a void of 20 days. He launched a scathing attack against certain self-proclaimed leaders of the Congress and accused the party of betraying him first. So were his actions a tit-for-tat? There was no clear answer from the leader, who reportedly beat around the bush.

Surat Lok Sabha polls 2024: The story so far

For the unversed, Nilesh Kumbhani's nomination was rejected citing discrepancies. His three proposers had submitted affidavits to the district returning officer claiming the signatures on them were not theirs. The nomination of Suresh Padsala, the Congress' substitute candidate from Surat, was also invalidated, pushing Gujarat's principal opposition party out of the poll fray in the city. 

READ HERE | Lok Sabha election: BJP gets its first MP from Surat, wins poll unopposed

Soon, all other candidates expect that of the BJP withdrew their nominations -- handing the saffron party's Mukesh Dalal a walkthrough on April 22. Due to a pre-poll alliance with Congress, the AAP had not fielded its candidate from Surat.  

 He was later suspended by the Congress, which blamed him for the rejection of the nomination form and also accused him of "connivance with the BJP". 

Return after going incommunicado

Kumbhani on Saturday, attacked the Congress for "betraying" him many years ago. The former corporator also claimed that the Congress leadership had a problem with him joining forces with Surat's AAP members for campaigning, despite the alliance. Here are the salient parts of Nilesh Kumbhani's media interaction after he resurfaced on Saturday.

Congress betrayed me first: "Congress leaders are accusing me of betrayal. However, it was the Congress which betrayed me first in the 2017 assembly elections when my ticket for the Kamrej Assembly seat in Surat was cancelled at the last moment. It was the Congress which made the first mistake, not me," Kumbhani was quoted as telling reporters by news agency PTI.

Attacks "five self-proclaimed leaders": "I did not want to do this but my supporters, office staff and workers were upset because the party is being run by five self-proclaimed leaders in Surat and they neither work nor allow others to work. 

Union with AAP wasn't appreciated: "Though AAP and Congress are part of INDIA alliance, these leaders raised objections when I used to campaign with AAP leaders here,"  he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Reaffirms allegiance to senior leader: Nilesh Kumbhani reportedly said he decided to remain silent all these days due to his respect for state Congress chief Shaktisinh Gohil and the party's Rajkot Lok Sabha candidate Paresh Dhanani.

An act of revenge? Kumbhani refused to give a direct reply to this response. Instead, he repeated the story of being denied a party ticket in the 2017 Assembly polls at the last minute. 

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