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Cross-voting sword hangs over Gujarat Congress in Rajya Sabha polls

The Congress needs at least 47 of its 57 MLAs to re-elect its lone candidate from Gujarat, Ahmed Patel.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2017 16:02 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Rajya Sabha polls,Cross-voting,Gujarat Congress
The Congress needs at least 47 of its 57 MLAs to re-elect its lone candidate from Gujarat, Ahmed Patel.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The Congress in Gujarat seems to be caught in a Catch-22 situation ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections after suffering back to back blows with the resignation of party veteran Shankersinh Vaghela and cross-voting in the presidential polls.

The party needs at least 47 of its 57 MLAs to re-elect its lone candidate from Gujarat, Ahmed Patel. But the election of the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi this time may hit a roadblock given that 11 Congress MLAs cross-voted in favour of NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 election.

Party insiders feel that the possibility of another cross-voting when Patel will seek his sixth consecutive election to the Rajya Sabha cannot be ruled out as at least 10 MLAs are staunch supporters of Kapadvanj MLA Vaghela.

According to sources, these 10 MLAs may follow in the footsteps of Vaghela in the near future.

“The state leaders have a fair idea as to who all have indulged in cross-voting (in the presidential election). But the party is in a Catch-22 situation as it can neither wait nor throw out the dissidents,” said a senior party leader.

Though the Congress directed its workers and MLAs to stay away from a function to celebrate Vaghela’s 77th birthday on July 21, two MLAs attended it. A few others had a closed door meeting with him just before he reached the venue in Gandhinagar and announced his disassociation from the party.

As Vaghela has said he would not resign as an MLA before the RS polls, the party seems to be treading with extreme caution, which was evident from the reaction of Gujarat chief Bharatsinh Solanki to the cross-voting. “The matter will be discussed with the high command before taking any step,” he said.

If the dissidents come out in the open before the poll, the Congress will be banking heavily on three MLAs from other parties, including two from its ally Nationalist Congress Party and one from Janata Dal(United).

The NCP MLAs, including state president Jayant Patel, claimed they voted for opposition candidate Meira Kumar but both were present by Vaghela’s side in the July 21 event. JD(U) MLA Chotubhai Vasava restrained from voting in the presidential poll.

The BJP – which has Union minister Smriti Irani and Dileep Pandya as its RS members from Gujarat – will have 27 surplus votes. Given the fluid scenario, an independent candidate may play a major role in setting up new political equations.

First Published: Jul 24, 2017 16:01 IST