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Rajya Sabha election: Why results are both victory and defeat for Amit Shah

The Gujarat poll result adds to the short list of Shah’s electoral failures: BJP’s routs in Bihar and Delhi assembly election being the only other big entries.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2017 23:19 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Amit Shah,Rajya Sabha election,Gujarat RS bypoll
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah casts his vote during the Rajya Sabha election at the secretariat in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.(PTI)

Amit Shah won, and lost. He won for himself a Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat, making his debut as a parliamentarian. On the day he completed three years as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief, Shah lost on his home turf the reputation of a leader who knows the art of winning even the hardest of political battles.

For next six years, Shah will live with the grudge of having failed to defeat Congress’s Ahmed Patel, whom the 52-year-old BJP president is said to hold guilty for his legal troubles during the UPA regime.

Patel’s victory in Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls comes despite Shah and his team putting their entire might behind rebel Congress leader Balwant Singh Rajput, who was the BJP’s third candidate for the August 8 Rajya Sabha election.

The last couple of weeks saw six Congress MLAs resigning from the party, some defecting to the BJP, and central agencies raiding the premises of a Karnataka Congress leader who hosted his party colleagues from Gujarat to avoid a break in their ranks.

Patel could poll just 44 votes — the exact number he needed to return to the Rajya Sabha. It was much below the Congress’s reduced strength of 51 members in the house.

Patel managed to keep his flock together, successfully averting Shah’s bid to poach more Congress legislators.

That he managed to convert an otherwise easy win for Patel into a nail biting contest was the only solace for the BJP president.

Shah will continue to enjoy the confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the poll result, declared in the wee hours of Wednesday, add to the short list of Shah’s electoral failures.

BJP’s routs in Bihar and Delhi assembly election are the only big entries in that list.

He managed to brush aside these two electoral reverses, pinning the blame on the local leadership. He can’t do it in this case in Gujarat.

The state will vote to elect a new government later this year in December. Patel’s victory will inject a new lease of life into the beleaguered Congress, which is smarting under a series of electoral losses at the hands of the Naendra Modi-Amit Shah combination.

The BJP will continue to rest its hope on Modi to continue its stint in power, which started in March 1998. It would like to forget the Wednesday result as a nightmare, which was over with the sunrise on Wednesday.

First Published: Aug 09, 2017 09:41 IST