Ahmed Patel trounces BJP mountain to bag berth in RS for fifth time in a row


Though BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani won two of the three berths to Rajya Sabha with ease, the victory on the third seat was perhaps sweeter for Ahmed Patel, who not just beat the political manouvres of his political opponent but trounced turncoat Congressman-turned-BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput.

“Satyamev Jayate,” Ahmed Patel tweet soon after Congress legislator emerged out of counting center shouting that he had bagged 44 votes. “This is not just my victory. It is defeat of the most blatant use of money power, muscle power and abuse of state machinery,” he added. Speaking to mediapersons, Ahmed Patel said that this election will prove to be a big booster for the party and Congress would emerge victorious in 2017 Assembly polls.

The strength of electorate had come down to 176 in 182-seat Gujarat Assembly after Congress saw resignation of half-a-dozen of its legislators about 10 days ago. The first time winner to Rajya Sabha Amit Shah got 46 votes, while Union minister of textiles Smriti Irani too bagged 46 votes, while losing BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput could bag 38 valid votes.

However, the final verdict did not come without Election Commission getting dragged in to the fierce fight between Congress and BJP. So much so that the results, that were to be announced around 6.30 pm in the evening, could be announced much past midnight, after Election Commission of India gave a go ahead to begin counting at 11.30 pm in the night.

Congress, that has been fighting an uphill battle against ruling BJP after losing six of its legislators even before the first vote was cast and eight others, including its tall leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, six of his loyalists and one to cross-voting, won a legal battle by convincing EC to declare two votes of its rebel legislators - Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil - as invalid.

The trouble began around 5.00 pm, when counting was slated to begin. The Congress election agent Shaktisinh Gohil raised alarm that two rebel legislators had flouted election norms by showing their votes to BJP candidates, rather than only to him as required. The imbroglio got entangled to such an extent that both the parties took the issue to Election Commission of India in New Delhi, with as many as seven senior Cabinet ministers reaching EC doors to counter high-powered Congress delegation of Central leaders. The EC appeared to have found merit in Congress’ claim and ruled accordingly.

“We welcome EC’s decision,” Arjun Modhvadia, Congress polling agent & leader, said. The BJP on its part dubbed the decision by EC as “sad” and “incorrect”. “The Election Commission has not given a just ruling. They should make the CD public so that the people can see how an independent organisation too can make a mistake,” Nitin Patel, Gujarat deputy chief minister, told mediapersons.

Post EC decision, BJP workers shouted slogans outside the counting center in Gandhinagar, further stalling counting till 1.15 am on early Wednesday morning.

The Tuesday night decision by EC brought down the need for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel to bag 44 votes, with total number of votes valid down from 176 to 174. Earlier, Congressman required 45 votes.

The polling day, meanwhile, was full of drama and deceit, with cross-voting by eight rebel Congress legislators. While the Shankarsinh Vaghela and six of his loyal men stuck to their stance and voted against Ahmed Patel, they were joined in by one of the 44 MLAs herded to Bengaluru by Congress. Karamshi Patel, the legislator from Sanand voted against Patel.

The bigger story was that there has been voting in favour of Ahmed Patel by either the lone JD(U) legislator Chhotubhai Vasava, two NCP legislators Jayant Patel (Bosky) and Kandhal Jadeja or Nalin Kotadia, Dhari legislator and rebel BJP man.

The voting by BJP legislators, meanwhile, appeared well-controlled, with all of them being guided in to the polling booth to vote as a disciplined rank and file.

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