In spite of tactfully calculated moves played by ex-Congress veteran Shakersinh Vaghela and BJP party president Amit Shah, Ahmed Patel managed to nail the much wanted third seat in Gujarat Rajya Sabha.
Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls which were held on Aug 8 saw a lot of drama and the results were all the more unexpected. Four contestants fought for three seats in RS, BJP President Amit Shah, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, newly joined BJP leader Balwant Singh Rajput and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel. Shankersinh Vaghela had calculated that his resignation from the party will pull a few more MLAs away from the party in BJP pockets, making the party stronger for the RS polls, however, his moves backfired resulting in Amed Patel winning the RS membership for the fifth term.
Following the resignation of Vaghela, Balwant Singh also quit Congress to join BJP and was instantly given the ticket to fight the polls against Ahmed Patel. While the victory of Amit Shah and Smriti Irani was confirmed the main drama was all about the third seat.
Patel needed 45 votes to win other than the support of 44 Congress MLAs the party was counting on the support of NCP and JDU also. During the voting, all the calculations went up and down several times as it was reported that one of the 44 MLA had cross-voted for BJP and also one of the NCP MLA had voted against Patel bringing down the magical number required to win. The twist came when Congress raised objections against two MLAs Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil alleging that they have violated the secrecy of voting by showing their votes to BJP candidates and the objection soon reached the doorsteps of the Election Commission in Delhi. However, after much-heated discussion put forward by both the parties, the election commission declared these two votes invalid and asked them to be separated before counting the votes. With this, the required number to win came down to 44 and this marked the win of Ahmed Patel.
However, Balwant Singh Rajput has challenged the decision of the election commission. He filed a plea in the High Court on Friday to quash the decision of the Election Commission (EC) of invalidating two votes. The plea read that the EC does not have the power to direct the returning officer to accept or reject any vote as valid and invalid. He also accused the EC of not accepting a similar complaint made by the Congress representative Shaktisinh Gohil earlier in the day on Aug 8. Rajput also alleged that Congress candidate indulged in corrupt practices of bribery and undue influence over the voters as he took the MLAs in a luxurious resort in a distant place and kept them in captivity spending a huge amount of money on their entertainment.
Balwant Singh Rajput has demanded that Patel should be disqualified and barred from contesting election for a period of six years.