Gujarat Rajya Sabha election: Ahmed Patel confident of win, Vaghela says didn’t vote for Congress
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said he was confident of his win, while rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela said he did not want to waste his vote for the Congress party as it was going to lose.india Updated: Aug 08, 2017 11:36 IST
Congress leader Ahmed Patel expressed confidence on Tuesday of winning the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, while rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela said the political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was “not going to win and there is no point wasting a vote” for him.
BJP president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and BJP’s Balwantsinh Rajput are also in the fray.
The elections have turned into a high-stakes battle for the Congress against the backdrop of the surprise exit of Vaghela and the resignation of six of its MLAs recently.
In the 182-member assembly, the BJP has 122 seats, while the Congress has 51 MLAs along with seven from the Vaghela camp. The NCP has two and JD(U) has one MLA.
Ahmed Patel requires 45 votes to win his fifth Rajya Sabha election. The Congress has a clear support of 44 MLAs.
Some MLAs of his group like Raghavji Patel and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja also came out and said they voted for the BJP, according to PTI.
A candidate requires 45 votes for a straight win, and the BJP with 121 MLAs can secure easy victories for Shah and Irani.
The party will be left with 31 surplus votes for Rajput, who will require the backing of rebel MLAs of the Congress and smaller parties to win, PTI said.
Rajput was the Congress chief whip in the assembly before joining the BJP.
Polling is taking place after a gap of about two decades in Gujarat, where official nominees of major parties used to get elected unopposed. The election is being lead after the BJP fielded Congress rebel Rajput against Patel, who is seeking a fifth term.
According to the Election Commission, a candidate requires one-fourth of the total number of votes plus one to get elected. This would mean a contestant has to muster 45 votes.
The MLAs have to give their preferential votes indicating first choice, second, third, fourth (as per number of candidates) or they can choose NOTA, they said.
Vaghela asserted on Tuesday that he had not voted for Patel. Five of his supporters too stated they voted for the BJP candidate.
“I have not voted for the Congress, because Ahmed Patel is not going to win and there is no point wasting a vote. We have pleaded so many times to listen to the grievances of the MLAs but it is unfortunate that they did not listen,” IANS quoted Vaghela as telling reporters after voting.
“Four-five more MLAs from the 44 that the Congress is banking upon are also not going to vote for the party.”
Patel, meanwhile, said the two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs and one of the Janata Dal-United will vote for him. “I have full confidence that I will win,” said Patel, putting up a brave face.
Asked about cross-voting by Vaghela and his supporters, he shrugged, “So what.”
Gujarat assembly secretary DM Patel, who is also the returning officer for the election, said that after the resignation of six Congress MLAs, a total of 176 MLAs were eligible to vote.
The election was necessitated following the completion of the tenures of three existing members Irani and Dilip Pandya of the BJP and Patel of the Congress.