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EC brake on VIP victory parade, Congress claps

New Delhi/Lucknow, June 21: The Election Commission today stayed the declaration of Rajya Sabha election results in Uttar Pradesh and summoned the nomination papers of two Congress candidates which were rejected last Saturday.

The Election Commission said it would examine the papers Madan Mohan Shukla and Harendra Agarwal had filed and decide on the validity of returning officer R.P. Pandey’s decision tomorrow.

Pandey had said the papers were not backed by adequate information or correctly formatted; they were also filed after the deadline for nominations had passed.

The Congress, which had yesterday threatened to hit the streets and had cried foul after the candidature of the Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan was upheld despite its objection, was jubilant today.

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Jagdambika Pal said the commission’s decision to stay the publication of results has “vindicated our stand”.

“It is a moral victory for the party. You cannot stop a poll to become a real contest in a democracy when there are candidates in addition to (a) number of seats to be filled by unconstitutionally rejecting their nominations,” he said.

The Samajwadi Party, whose relations with the Congress have been marked by acrimony since the Lok Sabha elections when it was rendered irrelevant in government formation despite winning a record number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, was understandably upset. The more so since it had filed an objection, like the BJP, alleging Shukla and Agarwal’s nominations were incomplete and late.

If the Congress candidates are debarred, the 11 Rajya Sabha candidates who are in the fray from the state will be elected without a fight.

Besides Jaya, the candidates include aspirants from the Samajwadi Party, the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party as well as some independents — like Anil Ambani and hotelier Lalit Suri — who are backed by one or more of these parties.

The Samajwadis and the BJP termed the poll panel’s decision “unauthorised” and not “within its power to do so”.

Samajwadi Party leaders waited in Lucknow until 5pm today hoping the 11 candidates would be declared elected unopposed after the panel examined the papers.

Former BJP Union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Arun Shourie, who were waiting in the central hall of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly to be handed their victory certificate , were left disappointed.

They said the poll panel was not authorised to intervene in the state election “as candidates who filed nominations and (were) found valid are equal to the number of seats to be filled…”

Jaya and Ambani’s supporters left soon after it was announced the panel would not allow the state’s results to be declared until documents relating to the Congress candidates’ nominations reached it and were scrutinised.

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