BJP wins RS bypoll amid cross-voting
External affairs minister S Jaishankar and another BJP candidate, OBC leader Juglaji Thakor, won the Rajya Sabha by-election from Gujarat on Friday.
Jaishankar secured 104 votes and Thakor 105, while Congress candidates Chandrika Chudasama and Gaurav Pandya managed to get 70 votes each, according to news agency Press Trust of India. The two seats fell vacant when Amit Shah, now the Union home minister, and Union minister for women and child development Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha.
“Both our candidates have won with a thumping majority. The Congress tried to create hurdles and went upto the Supreme Court, but it failed,” chief minister Vijay Rupani told reporters. “The result is yet to be declared officially but it is clear that we have won,” he said.
Apart from votes of 100 MLAs of the BJP, Jaishankar and Thakor also got votes of one NCP MLA, two Bharitiya Tribal Party (BTP) legislators and two rebels of the Congress -- Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala.
Alpesh Thakor and Zala resigned as members of the Gujarat assembly soon after cross-voting in the bypolls. “Thakor and Zala have cross-voted,’’ Congress election in-charge Shailesh Parmar said.
With two more MLAs resigning, the Congress’s strength in the 182-member assembly has fallen to 69 from 77 seats it had won in the 2017 assembly elections. Seven legislators have resigned so far and one was disqualified following his conviction in an illegal mining case.
“I have listened to my conscience…I have voted for national and honest leadership. Whereas the Congress leadership has failed to read the aspiration of the people of India,’’ said Alpesh Thakor after casting his vote.
“I have off-loaded a great burden. I had been subjected to mental torture ever since I joined the Congress,’’ Thakor, who was the MLA from Radhanpur in north Gujarat, added.
Thakor had joined the Congress party ahead of the 2017 assembly elections.
Zala, who represented the Bayad constituency, said, “The honest workers have been neglected and those responsible for factionalism have been rewarded.”
Sixty-nine of total 71 MLAs of the Congress had followed the party’s whip. The Congress alleged the BJP had made the two MLAs to cross-vote.
Leader of the opposition Paresh Dhanani said speaker Rajendra Trivedi had ignored the party’s appeal to disqualify and ban Thakor and Zala from contesting elections for six years under the anti-defection law.
The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the anti-defection law, bars MLAs from crossing over to other parties under the lure of securing an office. “Instead, he accepted their resignation. The Congress will take a legal step if the speaker will not accept our appeal,’’ he said.