Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls: Ahmed Patel on back foot, Shankersinh Vaghela, other Congress MLAs vote against official nominee

As voting continues in the Gujarat state assembly for the Rajya Sabha polls, veteran leader, Shankersinh Vaghela told that he has voted against his former party “as the Congress was, in any case, getting less than 40 votes”. Vaghela’s statement marks a major setback for senior Congress Ahmed Patel’s expectation to secure a fifth Rajya Sabha term in the state. Speaking to ANI, Vaghela stated, “Jab Cong jeetne waali hai hi nahi, vote bina matlab Cong ko dene ka matlab nahi tha. Humne Ahmed Patel ko vote nahi diya. (When the Congress are anyways losing there was no point casting vote for them. I haven’t voted for Ahmed Patel).”

While the results of the poll will be declared at 5 pm, today, Ahmed Patel will require 45 votes to secure victory in the Rajya Sabha. Earlier, after the sudden resignation of Congress’ top leaders Vaghela and Balwantsinh Rajput, the party took his 44 other MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to protect them from getting ‘horse-traded’ by the BJP. While Patel in a media statement expressed confidence over his victory, but the senior party leader also warned of action from the party in case of cross-voting.

With the major jolt from Vaghela, the Congress’ hope to win the polls depend on rest of the 44 members. Patel, who is also the Political Secretary of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, had earlier, on Monday, claimed that the party has the support of two NCP leaders. However, later NCP leader Kandhal Jadeja, while speaking to the media, stated that the party will be voting for BJP candidate Balvantsinh Rajput.

According to the latest report by ANI, other than Vaghela, two other Congress MLAs, Raghavji Patel and Dharmendra Jadeja has also confirmed that they have cast votes for BJP’s Balwantsinh Rajput. Reportedly, Jadeja claimed that their votes didn’t go in favour of Congress as the party was not paying heed to them.

The contest for the Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat is the first such instance in the state in over two decades. And with 120 MLAs in the 182 member Assembly, BJP’s chances are bright to win two of the three seats without any major contest. While Union Minister Smriti Irani is contesting for one of the three seats, BJP President Amit Shah is also fighting for a Rajya Sabha seat for the first time. On the other hand, the Congress, coming down to 51 legislators from 57, after the resignation of six of its MLAs, will be fighting to clinch the third seat.

By: Priyam Mukhopadhyay

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