Two clear winners in Rajya Sabha, one fighting

Two clear winners in Rajya Sabha, one fighting

In Gujarat, the voting for the crucial Rajya Sabha elections on three seats would be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. The counting will be held at 5 p.m., an hour after the end of polling. Gujarat Assembly Secretary D M Patel, who is also the returning officer for the Rajya Sabha election said that after the resignation of six Congress MLAs, there are total 176 MLAs eligible to vote. The election has been necessitated following the completion of the tenures of three existing members union minister Smriti Irani and Dilip Pandya of BJP and Ahmed Patel of Congress. Meanwhile, the win of two of the 3 BJP candidates party president Amit Shah and Smriti Irani was almost certain, while the fate of the third party candidate Balwantsinh Rajput who joined BJP after resigning from Congress was hanging in balance along with the sole Congress candidate Ahmed Patel. Congress needs the support of 45 MLAs for the victory of Patel who is contesting for his fifth term for the upper house. In 182 member assembly, BJP has 122 seats including dissident Nalin Kotadiya. (

The Numbers Game

While Congress has 51 MLAs along with 7 of Shankarinh Vaghela's camp. NCP has 2 and JD U has 1 MLA in the house. (

Each candidate needs 45 first-preference votes to enter Rajya Sabha, and the BJP's 120 MLA's leave it with 30 votes to spare. The Congress has 51 but is wary of cross-voting. Its uncertainty began on July 21, when Leader of the Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela announced he was quitting the Congress. Six other Congress MLAs quit the assembly, bringing the Congress strength down from 57 to 51 including Vaghela. Three of the six Balwantsinh Rajput, Tejashree Patel and P I Patel joined the BJP. The BJP then sprang a surprise by fielding Rajput as its third candidate. It can get him elected either by stacking up extra first-preference votes, or by depending on second-preference votes that come into play if first-preference votes fail to decide the winner. Though Vaghela has publicly said his vote was reserved for Ahmed Patel, he added a rider later when he sought the withdrawal of remarks about him by Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot, in charge of Gujarat. Vaghela is related to Rajput, whose son is married to Vaghela's granddaughter. (

Bengaluru Drama

Amid worries of the BJP luring its MLAs, the Congress had herded 44 of its MLAs out of Gujarat to a resort near Bengaluru. Their stay for nine days was marked by drama: Karnataka minister D K Shivakumar, hosting the MLAs, was the target of searches by the income tax department last week in what the Congress called an act of political vendetta for sheltering the Gujarat MLAs. Though the Gujarat Congress MLAs put up an united front during their stay in Bengaluru, many in the Congress camp are worried that a few will not vote for the Congress. And even if all 44 do vote for Ahmed Patel, the party will still need to worry about the 45th vote. The six MLAs other than these 44 and Vaghela refused to join their colleagues in Bengaluru. The 44 MLAs returned from Bengaluru Monday morning and were whisked away to another resort in Anand. The Congress has issued a whip to its MLAs with a warning that cross-voting will result in disqualification for electoral politics for six years. From the other camp has come an unusual public statement: Gujarat’s Minister of State for Law, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, declared that anybody can engage in cross-voting in the elections without being disqualified. (

Safe house for MLA's

Congress MLAs from Gujarat, who were camping in Bengaluru ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, returned to the state this morning and were taken to a resort in Anand district, party leaders said.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is in fray for the Rajya Sabha polls which will be held tomorrow. Patel is also the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

"All our MLAs have returned and they have been taken to a resort in Anand," Congress party chief whip and senior leader Sailesh Parmar told reporters in Anand.

The MLAs were whisked away from the airport here and have been kept together at one Nijanand resort on the outskirts of Anand town.

"All our MLAs have decided not to go to their home even on this day of 'Rakshabandhan' and be loyal soldiers of the Congress party. They will stay together and they will go to vote for the Rajya Sabha polls tomorrow (to Gandhinagar) from Anand," Parmar said.

"Ahmed Patel and state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki will come to Anand to meet them," he said adding they have not taken police security at the resort.

NCP uncertainty

NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja told reporters in Gandhinagar that he and Jayant Patel, another party lawmaker, have been asked to cast their first preference votes in favour of Rajput.

"As per our party's directive, we have to give our vote to BJP's Balwantsinh Rajput. He will be our first preference," said Kandhal, who has openly admitted in the past that he was Vaghela.

However, Sule said the NCP MLAs would vote for the Congress candidate "to the best of my knowledge".

"To the best of my knowledge it's Congress (that NCP MLAs would vote for)," she said, responding to a text message when asked to comment on reports that the NCP leadership has decided to back BJP in the polls.

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