Gujarat Rajya Sabha election: When Congress, BJP took the fight to EC over two votes

The Congress said its two rebel legislators had showed ballot paper to a BJP polling agent.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2017 08:38 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Gandhinagar
Gujarat RS polls,Gujarat polls,Rajya Sabha
Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Ashok Gehlot, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mukul Wasnik and Anand Sharma coming out of the Election Commission of India, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

It was a day of twists and turns in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls on Tuesday, where Congress leader Ahmed Patel won the third seat.

Ahmed Patel was pitted against Balvantsinh Rajput, the Congress rebel who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

BJP national president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani won the other two seats.

What added further suspense to the day of claims and counter claims was the suspension of the counting after the Congress complained to the Election Commission seeking to declare two votes of its rebel lawmakers invalid.

The Congress said its two rebel legislators had showed ballot paper to the BJP polling agent.

“We had demanded that video tape should be run, our claim be checked and two votes should be cancelled,” said Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil, adding, “If required, we are ready to take this fight to the Supreme Court.”

Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel alleged, “The Congress delayed the counting because they have seen the defeat coming,’’ and said after the state election office had rejected the Congress plea for cancellation of two votes.

As the returning officer overruled the Congress objection, the drama reached to the Election Commission but not before many lawmakers coming out and declaring their vote.

In the morning, former Congress legislature party leader Shankersinh Vaghela attracted the spotlight as he claimed that he had not voted for Patel. “I did not vote for the Congress. I did not want to waste my vote when Congress is not winning,” he said.

He also claimed that as eight Congress MLAs cross-voted and party’s official candidate will lose. Ahmed Patel was quick to retort saying he was confident of the victory.

Those who cross-voted also include Karmshi Patel, Sanand Congress MLA, who was part of the 44 MLAs taken by the Congress to Bengaluru levelling charges of horse-trading against the BJP.

All 44 of them, who were on Monday shifted from Bengaluru to a resort in Ananad, over 100 km from Gandhinagar, were Tuesday brought together in a bus at polling station in secretariat. State senior leaders lined up to greet them as they got down from bus and left for polling.

Request for proxy by Dhamsi Rajputana, one of the Congress MLAs who expressed inability to write, was rejected by EC as such request should be made at-least three days prior to the voting. He voted by himself.

But it turned out to be cliffhanger till last minute as suspense prevailed over whom one of the two NCP MLA and lone JD(U) MLA voted for.

While Kandhal Jadeja was seen taking blessings of BJP Chief Amit Shah after casting his vote, giving indication of voting for the BJP, NCP’s second MLA and state president Jayant Patel said, “Whip is clear. We are the partner of the UPA’’.

JD(U) MLA Chhotu Vasava kept his cards close to his chest saying “I have voted for the country and as per the party’s ideology.”. This came after JD (U) national spokesperson KC Tyagi said the lone legislator in Gujarat had voted for the party’s latest ally BJP.

First Published: Aug 08, 2017 22:28 IST