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BJP’s Balwantsinh Rajput who lost to Ahmed Patel in RS polls challenges EC ruling

Balwantsinh Rajput was one of the 14 rebel Congress legislators to quit the party before the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2017 20:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Balwantsinh Rajput,Ahmed Patel,Congress
BJP president Amit Shah and party leader Balwantsinh Rajput (right) during a party meeting in Gandhinagar(PTI file photo)

BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput who lost to Congress heavyweight Ahmed Patel in the recently held Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat has challenged in court the declaration of two votes as invalid by the Election Commission.

Rajput, who quit the Congress to contest the Rajya Sabha polls on a BJP ticket, filed a plea before the Gujarat High Court. The hearing is scheduled for August 21.

Rajput’s lawyer Satyapal Jain told the media that the plea challenged the decision of the Election Commission to invalidate two votes as demanded by the Congress.

After the EC invalidated the votes of Congress rebels Raghavji Patel and Bhola Gohil for showing their ballot papers to the BJP’s polling agent in presence of BJP president Amit Shah, Patel was declared the winner along with Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani.

Rajput, who was chief whip of the Congress party, was one of the 14 rebel Congress legislators to quit the party before the Rajya Sabha polls. He got 38 votes in the election, while Ahmed Patel of Congress won with 44 votes.

According to Rajput’s petition, the EC cannot reverse the decision of the returning officer, who had declared those two votes valid.

His petition also requested the disqualification of votes of two other Congress legislators for the same reason.

BJP chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani got 46 votes each and were the other two winners.

After six of the 14 Congress rebels resigned as legislators, the effective strength of votes in the 182-seat Gujarat assembly was reduced to 176. The Rajya Sabha candidates needed 44 first preference votes to win.

Ahmed Patel got 43 votes of the Congress legislators who had been herded to a Bengaluru resort to prevent “poaching”, and of a JD-U legislator.

The Congress had taken its 44 MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru for nine days before the elections, alleging horse-trading by the BJP when six of its MLAs had already resigned. Three of them, including Rajput, joined the BJP before the election.

The trouble for the Congress began after former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela disassociated himself from the party in July. All eight MLAs of the Vaghela camp who cross-voted resigned as legislators after the elections.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 17:10 IST