After a nail-biting Rajya Sabha contest, Congress veteran Ahmed Patel, BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani were declared winners following counting of votes at Swarnim Sankul in Gandhinagar early on Wednesday.
After a delay in counting, the Election Commission announced the names of the three winners. Fourth candidate, Balwantsinh Rajput of the BJP — who resigned as Congress legislator to take on Mr. Patel, lost the contest that became a tightrope walk for the political secretary of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Ahead of the big verdict in the crucial battle, the BJP received a major setback with the Election Commission late on Tuesday accepting the Congress demand for invalidating the votes of two of its legislators, who cross-voted and showed their ballots to the BJP polling agent in violation of the rules. As per the EC rule, a legislator cannot show the ballot to any unauthorised person except his own party’s polling agent authorised by the EC.
“The EC has held two votes invalid,” B.B. Swain, Gujarat’s Chief Electoral Officer, told The Hindu.
So, after the EC’s ruling of invalidating two votes, a total 174 votes cast by the legislators were valid ones as against the Assembly strength of 182. Six Congress MLAs had already resigned as legislators, including Mr. Rajput, who took on Mr. Patel.
Earlier in the day, chaos, confusion, high drama and flip-flops, claims and counterclaims dominated the high-stakes voting for the three Rajya Sabha seats involving heavyweights Mr. Shah, Ms. Irani and Mr. Rajput from the BJP and Mr. Patel from the Congress.
After the voting by 176 legislators, the Congress raised the demand for invalidating two votes cast by Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil.
As many as eight Congress legislators, including former Leader of the Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela, his son Mahendrasinh Vaghela and others voted for the BJP, hurting the chances of Mr. Patel, who was seeking a fifth term.
“I have voted against Ahmed Patel because the Congress did not deserve to win,” Mr. Vaghela told mediapersons after voting.
However, for the Congress, the setback was not Mr. Vaghela or his son’s cross-voting. The problem arose when Sanand legislator Karamshi Patel, who was part of the 44 MLAs flown to Bengaluru as a desperate measure to keep its flock together, cross-voted in favour of the BJP.
With Mr. Karamshi Patel’s cross-over vote, only 43 legislators of the party had voted for Mr. Patel. Earlier in the day, when the MLAs were being taken to the polling station in a bus from a resort, Mr. Patel had reportedly cried before the legislators asking them to forgive him if he had ever hurt anyone.
Interestingly, the most flip flops and claims and counter claims came from JD(U) legislator and seasoned tribal leader Chhotu Vasava, who he has voted for remained suspense till the end. On Tuesday morning, Mr Vasava travelled with Congress leaders from Anand to Gandhinagar but at the polling station, he was escorted by two BJP leaders, who subsequently claimed that Vasava voted for BJP.
However, a few hours later, Mr. Vasava slammed the BJP for ignoring tribals and stressed that he had voted for Mr. Patel. It may be noted that JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi claimed in Delhi that their party legislator was asked to vote for the BJP and he has followed the whip.
On the NCP front, the party appeared divided with two MLAs voting separately for the candidate of their choice. Kutyana legislator Kandhal Jadeja voted for the BJP, while another MLA Jayant Patel said he had voted for the Congress candidate as NCP was part of the UPA.
Tuesday late night, lone legislator of Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), which was merged with the BJP, Nalin Kotadia claimed that “he did not vote for the BJP in the RS poll.”
With inputs from Devesh K. Pandey
Source: Bing News