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Explainers

EC Rejects Shyam Rangeela's Varanasi Lok Sabha Bid. What Exactly Happened?

Shyam Rangeela, who had filed his nomination papers from Varanasi seat against Prime Minister Modi, was rejected on grounds of not taking the oath.

By - Hera Rizwan | 16 May 2024 7:28 AM GMT

The Election Commission of India (ECI), on Wednesday, rejected comedian Shyam Rangeela's nomination for the Lok Sabha Elections 2024, which he had submitted as an independent candidate from the Varanasi constituency.

In a video posted on X, Rangeela said that the Varanasi district magistrate informed him his nomination was rejected due to "not having taken the oath," a requirement he was "unaware" of.

Post his rejection, the comedian said on X, "It was decided that I will not be allowed to contest from Varanasi, now it is clear. The heart is definitely broken, but the spirit is not broken."

'The Election Commission has made elections in Varanasi a game': Rangeela

The 29-year-old stand-up comic from Rajasthan, who gained fame for impersonating Prime Minister Modi, had submitted his nomination as an independent candidate. Rangeela had alleged that he was being prevented from submitting his nomination papers.

Rangeela has been consistently sharing updates on his social media platforms, documenting the obstacles he has faced while attempting to file his nomination since May 10. He initially claimed that his nomination was being hindered due to an alleged "lack" of sufficient nominators, a requirement that Rangeela asserted "he met". Rangeela was finally permitted to eventually file his nomination from the seat merely a couple of hours before the deadline ended.

He submitted his papers to the district magistrate's office on May 14, the same day Prime Minister Modi submitted his nomination papers. Varanasi will vote on June 1 in the final phase of the elections. Candidates had until May 14 to file their nominations for the seats in phase seven.

According to the poll panel's website, 36 out of 55 candidates had their forms rejected, while the affidavits of 15 candidates, including PM Modi and Congress' Ajay Rai, were accepted.

In a video message on X, Rangeela alleged that “the Election Commission has made elections in Varanasi a game”. Having submitting "all the required documents", he asked if it wasn't going to be approved, why did they accept it in the first place. 

Rangeela explained, "The DM informed me today that there was an issue with my paperwork and that I didn't take the oath. They didn't allow my lawyers to accompany me and called me in alone. Now they claim I didn't take the oath and that it was my responsibility to do so. I explained that they never instructed me to, and they said it's not their job."

Additionally, he was told by the DM that since he submitted the form on May 14 at 2:58 pm and that if there was an issue, Rangeela had until 3 pm to resolve it. " I've been trying since May 10 along with others. My friend was beaten up. Modiji may act and cry, but I don't want to cry here," he added.

Once a supporter of PM Modi, Rangeela had previously stated that the circumstances had evolved over the past decade, prompting his decision to run for elections in Varanasi.

In an interview with Decode, Rangeela had explained that he chose Varanasi because it is a significant constituency, especially with the Prime Minister himself contesting there, ensuring maximum attention. He said, “Through this I want to give out a message to all the citizens and candidates of the 543 constituencies that a free and fair election is cardinal to democracy. In a democracy, we cannot afford to have elections unopposed and lopsided.”

The comedian underscored that his choice stemmed from a dedication to democratic principles, highlighting that his candidacy goes beyond symbolism, representing a genuine and earnest endeavor to engage with the political framework.

What is the process for filing a Lok Sabha nomination?

Filing a nomination for the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India's Parliament, involves several steps and adhering to specific procedures. Firstly, the eligibility criteria requires the candidate to be at least 25 years old and be an Indian citizen. 

The candidate is required to obtain the prescribed nomination form (Form 2A) from the Returning Officer (RO) of the constituency and fill in personal details such as name, age, address, and electoral roll information. They must also attach an affidavit declaring criminal records, if any, financial assets, liabilities, and educational qualifications.

The candidate must sign the nomination form in the presence of the RO. According to the Representation of People Act, 1951, it is mandatory for every candidate to deposit a certain security amount. To contest a Parliamentary election, the amount is Rs 25,000 for general candidates and Rs 12,500 for candidates from SC/ST categories. 

Furthermore, the nomination form must be signed by a certain number of proposers. For recognised political party candidates, one proposer is needed. For independent candidates, ten proposers are required from the same constituency.

The candidates are mandated to take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India before an authorised officer. Regarding this step, the rules say, "It should be noted that oath can be taken only after the nomination paper is filed. It would be for the candidate to produce before the RO, the certificate of taking of oath as per the requirement of law.