Twist in Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat as BJP names third candidate to counter Congress
Congress leader P K Valera filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate to compensate for a possible rejection of nomination papers of its second candidate Naran Rathwa.india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 18:45 IST
The BJP on Monday fielded a third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, saying Congress legislators could cross-vote during elections in Gujarat on March 23.
The Congress and the BJP are tipped to win two seats each according to their strength in the Gujarat assembly.
Monday’s drama began when Congress leader P K Valera filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate after the party braced for the possible rejection of nomination papers of its second candidate Naran Rathwa on technical grounds.
The Congress had declared the two candidates on Sunday night. While Amee Yajnik, a high court lawyer, went ahead with filing her nomination on time on Monday, tribal leader Naran Rathwa managed to file his papers in the nick of time after a particular document was delayed.
“An original attested copy by Chhota Udaipur (his home town) collector of electoral rolls was missing. I had attached a print of a soft copy, but the original was required which we managed before time. This caused delay,” said Rathwa after filing his nomination.
While the Congress made Valera file his nomination papers as an independent candidate, the BJP too adopted a similar strategy.
The ruling party in Gujarat fielded a third candidate Kiritsinh Rana (former state minister) at the last moment. The BJP’s other two candidates union ministers of state -- Purshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya -- had already filed nomination papers earlier in the day.
Both the parties expressed possibility of drama like the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections when the Congress had moved its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to prevent horse trading and secure a victory for Ahmed Patel. Patel won by a vote.
“There is a high possibility that form of one of the two candidates likely of getting rejected. Besides, we also sense lot of discontentment among the Congress MLAs over selections of the candidates. Both the conditions have led to situation where the Congress MLAs might go for cross voting. So we have fielded the third candidate,” said deputy chief Minister Nitin Patel.
The Congress said it was confident and ready for any eventuality.
“The last time also the BJP had tried to break the Congress and win RS elections. They had miserably failed. This time also they may try something similar. But, again, the Congress is confident of winning two seats. And it will do everything that situation would demand’’, Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said.
The final picture on number of candidates will be clear only after the nomination papers are scrutinized on Tuesday.
The term of four Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, all from BJP, including Union ministers Arun Jaitley , Purshottam Rupala, Mansukh Mandavia and Shanker Vega, is coming to end this month.
Following its reduced strength in the assembly from 115 to 99 MLAs in December 2017, the BJP can this time retain only two seats while the Congress for the first time since 1995 is in position to field two candidates after the number of its legislators rose to 77 from 61 in the last assembly polls.
In the 182-member Gujarat assembly, each RS candidate will require at least 38 votes to win.