JD(U) vote may have swung Gujarat Rajya Sabha election for Ahmed Patel

Ahmed Patel was declared elected to the Council of States in early hours after a night of drama and a day of claims and counter-claims of support for the Congress leader.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2017 08:29 IST
Sharad Yadav,JD(U),NCP
Ahmed Patel celebrates after winning the Rajya Sabha election.(Siddharaj Solanki/HT Photo)

It was former ally Janata Dal (United) that won the bitterly fought Rajya Sabha election for senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, sources said on Thursday.

Patel was declared elected to the Council of States in early hours after a night of drama and a day of claims and counter-claims of support for the Congress leader.

It was the vote of the lone Janata Dal (United) member in Gujarat assembly, Chhotu Vasava, that saw Patel home after the election commission declared invalid the votes of two rebel Congress legislators.

The BJP plans to challenge the decision that reduced to 44 the votes Patel needed to get into the Rajya Sabha for the fifth term.

“We don’t agree with the EC’s decision, we will take all possible legal action,” Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said on Wednesday.

In a contest that was a battle of prestige for BJP chief Amit Shah, the party seems to have been hit by the infighting in JD(U), its newest ally.

“Heartiest congratulations on your victory in Rajya Sabha election in spite of toughest hurdles. Wish you all success in your career,” JD (U) co-founder Sharad Yadav tweeted.

“Thank you for your support Sharad ji,” responded Patel in a telling message.

Yadav is unhappy with party president and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to go back to the BJP after snapping ties with the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal.

A Yadav loyalist, Vasava told news channels he was angry with Kumar’s decision.

But, there were more claimants to Patel’s victory.

Nationalist Congress Party Gujarat chief Jayant Patel said he stuck to the party whip and foiled Shah and former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela’s plan to scuttle the Congress leader’s bid to the Rajya Sabha through cross-voting.

Of the 51 Congress MLAs, eight, including Vaghela, who quit in party in late July, and six of his loyalists, didn’t vote for Patel.

Karmshi Patel, too, joined them though he was one of the 44 MLAs the Congress had herded to Bengaluru to keep them away from the BJP. The eight were expelled by the Congress a day later.

The cross-voting brought down the number of Congress votes to 43, one short of the magic 44-mark.

“As per the party whip, I and our second MLA Kandhal Jadeja were supposed to vote for the Congress. The whip arrived on Tuesday morning but Jadeja cross-voted,” Jayant Patel told Hindustan Times.

But Jadeja, an MLA from Kutiyana, said a day before polling, he got a call from senior party leader Praful Patel, who asked him to vote for the BJP. He was seen greeting Shah after casting his vote.

But Jayant said a whip couldn’t be issued over the phone and Jadeja would be served a show-cause notice.

Both the NCP lawmakers defied the party whip, Congress sources in New Delhi said.

BJP rebel Nalin Kotadiya, too, made conflicting claims through Wednesday.

Immediately after the polling, he told media he had voted for BJP but in the night he changed his stand and posted a Facebook video in support to the Paitdar community, which is seeking quota in jobs and education and is up in arms against the ruling BJP.

First Published: Aug 09, 2017 23:04 IST