Gujarat Rajya Sabha election: Why it’s important for both BJP and Congress | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Gujarat Rajya Sabha election: Why it’s important for both BJP and Congress

As voting began for three Rajya Sabha seats, Congress candidate Ahmed Patel expressed confidence that he will win. BJP’s Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput too are in fray.

india Updated: Aug 08, 2017 22:11 IST
Kumar Uttam
BJP national president Amit Shah addresses party workers in Rohtak.
BJP national president Amit Shah addresses party workers in Rohtak. (HT FILE PHOTO)

The Election Commission will take a call on the Congress’s demand for invalidating votes of two of its MLAs who claimed to have voted for BJP nominees in the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat on Tuesday. (LIVE UPDATES)

The outcome will not only decide which three of the four candidates in the fray go to the Upper House of Parliament but also have a bearing on the two powerful leaders of India’s major parties - Amit Shah of the BJP and Ahmed Patel of the Congress.

The election means a lot for Patel, one of the most powerful politicians of the main opposition party. He is seeking re-election for the fifth term in the Rajya Sabha.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, who himself is a candidate, has fielded a nominee against Patel, laying the ground for a battle royale between the two master strategists of the Congress and the BJP.

What if the BJP candidate wins against Patel?

1) It will be a big boost for the saffron party ahead of this year’s assembly election in the western state. The party has set a target of winning 150 seats in the 182-member assembly.

2) It will reaffirm Shah’s reputation as a master strategist. The party has 31 extra votes after securing two Rajya Sabha seats and is short of 14 votes to win the third seat. Shah has tried to muddy the waters by fielding a third candidate, a relative of rebel Congress leader Shankar Singh Vaghela, to take on Patel.

3) Shah makes his debut in Parliament as a member of the Rajya Sabha. Patel’s defeat will make it a grand entry for him in the Upper House.

4) It could be the end of the road for Patel as the Congress’ chief strategist. The veteran has been a close confidant of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for years but lying low for a while. If Shah manages to defeat him, his authority within the Congress will come under the scanner.

What if Patel wins?

1) It will be a big setback for Shah, who has put in his might against Patel. The Opposition party has accused the BJP government at the Centre of misusing central agencies to hound Congress MLAs from Gujarat and Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar, who hosted them at a resort near Bengaluru. Congress’s victory will give the party a new voice to challenge the BJP.

2) It will help Patel re-establish his credentials as a master strategist. It will also silence party snipers.

3) The Congress will get a new lease of life in Gujarat, where it wants to capitalise on the ‘absence’ of Narendra Modi to make a comeback. Gujarat is scheduled to go to polls in November and Patel’s victory in such a high profile contest will boost the morale of the party cadres.

4) Anti-BJP forces such as Hardik Patel will be emboldened in Gujarat and could trigger a fresh round of political slugfest in the western state before the assembly polls.