BJP chief Amit Shah, Smriti Irani to contest Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday fielded its president Amit Shah for the August 8 Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.
Shah is currently a member of the Gujarat legislative assembly and this is for the first time that he will become a member of Parliament. Union minister Smriti Irani, too, has got a BJP ticket to contest the poll for membership of the upper house.
The BJP’s election committee cleared these names at a meeting, also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the party headquarters on Wednesday.
Three Rajya Sabha members from the western state – Irani, Dilipbhai Pandya and Congress’ Ahmed Patel – are retiring next month. Patel filed his nomination papers on Wednesday. Given its current strength in the legislative assembly, whose member vote in the Rajya Sabha election, both Shah and Irani will get elected to the upper house of parliament.
Congress, too, has sufficient members to get Patel elected, but cross voting by 11 Congress MLAs during the July 17 Presidential election and the rebellion by outgoing leader of opposition Shankersinh Vaghela has the Congress worried.
The BJP will be left with 27 extra votes after getting its two candidates elected, and the party is keeping the option open to support any independent candidate, if there is one. Speculation is rife that a close relative of Vaghela may join the poll fray as an independent candidate in Gujarat.
The BJP has also fielded tribal leader Sampatia Uike for the lone Rajya Sabha seat falling vacant following the death of then environment minister Anil Madhav Dave.
Vaghela on Wednesday made it clear that he has no intention of contesting August 8 Rajya Sabha elections. He said his vote as MLA is reserved for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel.
“I have assured Patel that my vote is for you. But only if Gujarat in-charge Ashok Ghelot will take back his statements that CBI and ED cases were the reasons that I have left the Congress. Or I will resign as MLA before RS polls’’, said Vaghela.