Hold polls to 2 Gujarat Rajya Sabha seats together: Congress
The two seats have fallen vacant with the election of BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha.Updated: Jun 14, 2019 07:13 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Congress on Thursday urged the election commission (EC) to hold simultaneous polls to the two vacant Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat, contending that separate elections will favour the ruling Bharatriya Janata Party (BJP).
The two seats have fallen vacant with the election of BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha.
The Congress believes that the poll panel might hold the elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats separately because the results of the Lok Sabha polls from Gandhinagar and Amethi were declared on different days. EC has not made any announcement on whether the polls will be held together or separately.
While Shah was declared elected from Gandhinagar on May 23, the formal announcement of Irani’s victory — she defeated Congress chief Rahuil Gandhi — came a day later.
“You cannot use a technicality that some figures were known on May 23 and some on 24 May and therefore you will have the Rajya Sabha elections separately,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told a news conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi.
“If you have one election today and one after two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, then you will enable the ruling party legislators to simply cross 51% in Gujarat and elect one in the first round and one in the second round, which is held after weeks,” he added.
The BJP has 104 legislators in the 182-member Gujarat assembly and the Congress’s strength stands at 70. As of now, there are seven vacancies in the Gujarat assembly bringing the strength down to 175. A party will need 61 first-preference votes to get a Rajya Sabha seat.
If the elections are held separately, the BJP will win both the seats, otherwise the Congress could bag one, Singhvi said. “It will be unconstitutional and illegal. This would be playing with the MLAs’ mandate,” he argued.
Singhvi also said that holding elections on separate days would be completely contrary to the convention set in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
“Whenever you have two seats in a state going vacant, elections are held together. My apprehension can be proved unfounded by a two-line statement, immediately, today or tomorrow, by the EC that there are no intentions of having separate elections for the two seats,” Singhvi said.
BJP spokesperson Sanjay Mayukh said the decision to schedule polls is taken by the election commission and not by the party or the government. “We have no role to play in scheduling polls, it is the domain of the election commission,” he said.
First Published: Jun 14, 2019 07:13 IST