Gujarat Rajya Sabha election: Top developments

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AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: Counting for the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election had to be stopped on Tuesday evening, with the Congress demanding cancellation of votes of two of its legislators who cross-voted and displayed their ballot paper to the BJP’s polling agent. While BJP’s Amit Shah and Smriti Irani are set to sail through, the fate of Congress party’s Ahmed Patel hangs in the balance. Read on to catch up with the top developments in this high stakes poll battle.
Congress on August 8 moved the Election Commission demanding cancellation of votes of its two MLAs, who cross-voted in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections and allegedly showed the ballots to BJP leaders, which is against the rules.
“The votes cannot be accepted at any cost. They should be rejected. The entire event has been recorded in video. We have requested the Election Commission to reject the votes,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
The BJP as well approached the EC, insisting that the petition by Congress was baseless and counting of votes should begin immediately.
Two rebel Congress MLAs, Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, displayed their ballot paper before the BJP agent as well as the Congress counterpart.
Earlier in the afternoon, voting in the high-stakes Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat had come to a close. With a bench strength of 121 MLAs, BJP’s Amit Shah and Smriti Irani are set to be elected. But the high-stakes contest has come down to the wire for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel, who needs 45 first preference votes for a clean victory.
Going head-to-head with Congress defector Balwantsinh Rajput, who joined the BJP, Patel’s problem was further compounded by rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who along with five of his supporters, cross-voted for the BJP.
Congress had earlier warned that any legislators who cross-voted would be suspended from the party.
“Whoever has cross-voted will be suspended with immediate effect,” party general secretary Ashok Gehlot said after voting ended.
Gehlot also claimed that nominee Ahmed Patel will comfortably win as he has the required numbers of 45 votes, despite the incidents of cross-voting by two party MLAs. He said that Patel has received two more votes — one each of the NCP and the JD(U) — assuring that numbers are in his favor.
Patel’s chances suffered another blow when former Congress stalwart Shankersinh Vaghela, who had quit the party last month, said he had voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha election
I have not voted for the Congress because Ahmed Patel is not going to win and there is no point wasting a vote. We have pleaded so many times to listen to the grievances of the MLAs but it is unfortunate that they did not listen,” Vaghela said.
Meanwhile, JD(U) MLA in Gujarat, Chhotu Vasava, said he’d voted for Congress’ nominee Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls. The legislator, whose party recently forged ties with the BJP in Bihar, said he decided to vote for the Congress candidate as “he is unhappy with the ruling party’s works for the poor and tribal population” that he represents.
He added his decision to vote for the Congress nominee was solely his own and not necessarily that of the party which he represents.

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