Amit Kumar’s supporters protest in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Prashant Mitra)
Ranchi, March 26: The fate of AAP rebel candidate Amit Kumar was sealed today even before he could test poll waters.
The 34-year-old wannabe Ranchi MP, who was hoping to take on the party’s official nominee and IITian-Oxonian Amanullah Aman, was denied entry to the returning officer’s chamber to file his nomination papers on the last day because time betrayed him.
According to rules, a candidate must complete formalities and enter the returning officer’s chamber before 3pm. Kumar reached the notified area barely 30 minutes before closing time, but ran out on precious minutes during verification and in queue.
The alumnus of St Xavier’s College had three other parliamentary aspirants for sad company. Anant Kumar Tiwari of Akhil Bharatiya Vikas Congress, Virendra Prasad Singh of Sanatan Sanskriti Raksha Dal and Arti Mehra of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha had stood in queue with him. But, they ran out of time too.
However, 10 candidates managed to make the last-minute dash. The newbies in the fray are Sajida Haidar and Afsar Imam of Indian Union Muslim League, Suresh Toppo of Jharkhand Disom Party and Independents Mansingh Mardi, Thadeyush Lakra, Ranjeet Mahto, Balram Bedia, Vikas Chandra Sharma, Paltu Munda and Amit Singh.
Denied entry, supporters of Kumar began thumping the gate leading to DC-cum-returning officer Vinay Kumar Choubey’s chamber.
“There were three other candidates who were allowed in, while the guards asked us to wait. Minutes later, we were told time was up. This is a conspiracy,” said Subedar Sidhanath Singh, an AAP member.
As the situation threatened to turn ugly, SDM Amit Kumar arrived to quell protests. “You are educated people, you must not break the law,” he told the agitating candidates.
Speaking to reporters, SDM Kumar added: “I will rely on police statements. Officers present said these four turned up barely a minute before closing time. Rule doesn’t allow nomination after stipulated time. The candidates should have read the election manual,” SDM said.
AAP candidate Kumar admitted a broken heart, but said he had not lost courage. “I feel bad for my supporters. I am an aam aadmi who is always cheated. But, I have not lost courage because this is not going to be the last polls ever. We will oppose Aman.”
A supporter conceded that political inexperience had cost them dear. “If you make last-minute preparations, you are sure to miss the bus. We should have completed documentation earlier,” he said, adding that they were now in a fix on who to vote because the AAP district unit was vehemently opposed to choice of Aman.
The other unlucky aspirants vented their ire. Anant Tiwari even indulged in a verbal duel with a sub-inspector rank officer. “Some powerful politicians don’t want us to contest,” he alleged.
Returning officer Choubey denied charges. “A rule is a rule. I can’t help if somebody turns up late (at my chamber),” he said.
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