One way or the other Vaghela is one of the main losers of the Rajya Sabha election as he no longer exists in the party where he belonged and may not have the sway in the BJP as his own strategy has not worked in the Rajya Sabha election.
It is also a win for the election commission which showcased that it was willing to stand up to any political party and pressure. This is a good sign in a democracy and showcases that the rules of democratic engagement are still in place.
The political drama
The voting for three seats of Rajya Sabha in Gujarat got off to a dramatic start at Swarnim Sankul in Gandhinagar on Tuesday. Former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who had kept his cards close to his chest, told mediapersons after the voting that he had not voted for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel. His son and Congress MLA Mahendrasinh Jadeja, however, remained tight-lipped. Vaghela went on to say that Patel would not even secure 40 votes, five short of the magic figure of 45 to win the polls. (ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com)
Till 11.40 am, 76 MLAs had cast their votes with sources claiming that at least five Congress MLAs had cross-voted. All in all there were 46 votes in the ballot for BJP and 30 in favour of Ahmed Patel, sources said. In another blow to Patel, Congress MLA Raghavji Patel said he had voted for BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput. "I had told the Congress that things were not well within the party." Asked if he will leave Congress, now, he said, "That is quite obvious." Soon after he casted his vote, he came out of the room and hugged state BJP President Jitubhai Vaghani. (ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com)
Election commission holds up
Until early Wednesday, the EC announcement of the results was awaited. But there was word that BJP’s Amit Shah and Smriti Irani had won. At 1.50 am, Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweeted “Satyamev Jayate,” saying he had won. “Money, muscle and manipulation could not win… BJP can break a few weak Congress MLAs but BJP cannot break the Congress party,” said Congress leader P Chidambaram. The poll panel’s intervention was prompted by a Congress complaint that two of its MLAs, Bhola Bhai Gohel and Raghavji Bhai Patel, had turned rebel and violated Rule 39A and Rule 39AA under the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961 by disclosing their choice to an unauthorised person, other than the party’s election agent. The EC studied the video footage of the two legislators casting their votes and found merit in the Congress complaint. Revoking the RO’s decision, the Election Commission at 11.25 pm ordered that the votes cast by the two MLAs be rejected by segregating the ballot papers concerned at the time of counting. (indianexpress.com)
The Election Commission of India (ECI) invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to revoke the decision of its Returning Officer (RO) in the state and declare invalid the votes cast by two Congress MLAs. (indianexpress.com)
In its eight-page order, the Commission rejected the BJP contention that the “Commission has no power” and the RO is the statutory authority for polling and counting. The Commission asserted that it was within its right “to act in those vacuous areas where either the law made by Parliament is silent or makes insufficient provision to deal with a situation in the conduct of election”. Invalidating the votes of the two Congress MLAs, the Commission spelt out the modalities. “Such segregation can be done at the time of counting with reference to the serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to the electors concerned as per the record maintained on the counter foils of ballots papers under Rule 38A,” the Commission said. The order is significant, EC sources told The Indian Express, because the Commission rarely contradicts its RO in such cases. (indianexpress.com)
EC does not succumb to pressure
Although Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti and Election Commissioner O P Rawat met both delegations twice, the Commission turned down requests for a third meeting since they needed time to deliberate and make a timely decision on the counting of votes. The political drama began around 5.30 pm with Congress’s Randeep Surjewala and former Union Minister R P N Singh approaching the Election Commission, demanding quashing of votes of Gohil and Patel. The Congress claimed that the two voted and showed their ballot papers to persons other than the authorised Congress agent, which is a violation of the conduct of election rules. (indianexpress.com)
Vaghela announces his win
Congress veteran and Sonia Gandhi aide Ahmed Patel retained his Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat, after an election drama that continued way past midnight on Tuesday.
Patel secured 44 votes to retain his Rajya Sabha seat, after the Election Commission invalidated two votes by two rebel Congress MLAs ahead of counting that started at 11.30 pm. BJP president Amit Shah and textile minister Smriti Irani too have won in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections.
“This is not just my victory. It is a defeat of the most blatant use of money power, muscle power and abuse of state machinery,” Patel said in a tweet soon after the results. This year’s Rajya Sabha election, which he contested for renomination to the Upper House for the fifth time, was seen the toughest challenge of his political career so far.
Not a win for Congress
The Gujarat Ahmed Patel seat may be a win but it showcased that many members decided to walk away from a crucial election. The congress party if it has to register strength it will have to strengthen its organisation and build the party from the inside, otherwise the Gujarat election may not yield any good result. Rahul Gandhi will have to show more strength if he has to lead the Indian National Congress.