Lack of support from Cong prompted last minute switch to BJP, says Indore candidate Akshay Kanti Bam

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With the Congress unable to field a candidate, many of its leaders urged voters to opt for NOTA. Photo: @AkshayKantiBam/X.

New Delhi: Akshay Kanti Bam, who withdrew his nomination as a Congress candidate in Indore and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), attributed his move to the lack of cooperation from the local Congress leadership.

According to Bam, it was due to an oversight by the Congress leadership that its dummy candidate could not contest as the official candidate after he withdrew the nomination. His unexpected switch to the BJP on the deadline for withdrawal of the nomination dealt a significant blow to the Congress.
Consequently, the Congress now lacks a candidate for the upcoming election in the Indore constituency on May 13. Currently, 14 candidates from various parties, including the BJP, BSP, and SUCI, are contesting for the seat. With the Congress unable to field a candidate, many of its leaders urged voters to opt for NOTA.

In a brief interview with Manorama, Akshay Kanti Bam shared insights into his political switch and related plans.
How do you respond to the allegations that you had faced threats from the BJP?
Never. In fact, I did not receive any support from the Congress. I was not even provided with the list of polling booth agents, and the campaign materials could not be distributed at the grassroots level. Additionally, my interaction programmes with the voters were cancelled consecutively. Within the five days from April 23 when I filed the nomination, to April 29, the party cancelled as many as three such events. I reached out to the Congress state president Jithu Patvari three times, informing him that I couldn't contest without these essential public interaction programs. I also attempted to contact local leadership but to no avail.

What did happen to the nomination filed by Mothi Sing, the dummy candidate of the Congress?
Even if I had withdrawn my nomination, Mothi Singh should have become the official candidate of the Congress. He was supposed to submit two sets of nominations, one as a party candidate and another as an independent candidate. However, he filed just one nomination in the name of the party. With the approval of my nomination, Mothi Singh's nomination as the Congress candidate would have automatically become invalid. If I had withdrawn my nomination, his nomination as an independent candidate could have been considered. However, Congress did not submit the second set of nominations for the independent candidate. It's puzzling why nobody is asking about this slip-up.

It is widely speculated that you decided to switch sides after being charged with attempted murder in a 17-year-old case.
That is completely wrong. As of now, I have not been arraigned under the attempted murder charges. The court has only directed a hearing to determine whether to impose such charges or not. This hearing is scheduled to take place on May 10th.

The SUCI has accused the BJP of threatening you to withdraw the nomination. What is your take on that?
I have no idea about this. The election to the seat has already been held with 14 candidates. It is just that Akshay Kanti Bam is not among them. I did not hold any discussions with the BJP prior.

If you hadn't made the last-minute decision, the Congress could have had a candidate in the seat?
I had already conveyed my reluctance to contest to the Congress president if things were going this way. I had asked for massive rallies by big leaders. However, it did not happen. Sachin Pilot, who had come to Ujjain, spent at least a couple of hours at the airport, but the local leadership failed to bring him there. The Congress’s attitude was that I should contest the election on my own. Why did they commit a lapse in submitting the nomination even when a dummy candidate was available to contest?

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