Rajya Sabha elections: Ahmed Patel re-elected after close fight
Ahmed Patel earlier told WION that his election has been made a matter of prestige but will only end up boosting the morale of the Congress party. Photograph: (ANI)
Four-term senior Congress legislator Ahmed Patel was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha for the fifth time after a fight to the finish that included the Election Commission nullifying two votes of Congress MLAs who were captured on camera showing their vote to a BJP poll agent.
BJP candidates, party president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani won the other two seats.
Ahmed Patel wrote on Twitter that his victory was a defeat of the "most blatant use of money power, muscle power and abuse of state machinery". He was referring to the resignation of six Congress MLAs ahead of the election following a rebellion by key leader Shankersinh Vaghela.
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— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) August 8, 2017
I want to thank each & every MLA who voted for me despite unprecedented intimidation & pressure from BJP.They voted for an inclusive India— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) August 8, 2017
Counting was delayed by hours after the Congress complained to the poll body demanding the two MLAs' disqualification. The BJP leaders followed suit, countering the Congress claim. Counting, which resumed at midnight, was again stalled after the BJP raised its own objections.
Legislators to Parliament's Upper House are elected by preferential voting which involves ranking candidates in order of preference.
In the 182-member Assembly, 176 MLAs were eligible to vote after the resignation of six Congress MLAs.The Election Commission order reduced the strength to 174.
Each of the four candidates contesting the elections in Gujarat had to win 44 first preference votes after the nullification of two votes by the Election Commission.
The Congress, which has 51 MLAs, now needed the support of 44 legislators for Ahmed Patel to win as against 45 earlier. Atleast six legislators of the party - Vaghela loyalists - voted for the BJP, reports said.
Ahmed Patel was counting on the support of 43 of its own lawmakers and one each of the Janata Dal (United) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The Congress says he received 44 votes.
Congress lawmaker Karamsinh Makwana reportedly did not show his ballot paper to the polling agent, fuelling speculation that he cross-voted.
The Congress had complained to the poll body that the two MLAs, Bhola Bhai Gohil and Raghav Bhai Patel, showed their votes to an agent of the BJP.The Election Commission, which had examined the video of the voting, said the elector was supposed to show his ballot paper only to the authorised representative of his party no one else.
The BJP has 122 seats including that of dissident Nalin Kotadiya.The chances for Ahmed Patel earlier seemed uncertain as it emerged that the lawmakers that the party was banking upon, had voted for the BJP.
Congress Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Arjun Modhwadia said earlier that 43 of the 44 legislators of his party had voted for Ahmed Patel, who is pitted against the BJP's Balwantsinh Rajput.
NCP legislator goes against party advice, votes for BJP
One of two MLAs of the NCP, who had been told by his party to vote for Mr Patel, said he would vote for the BJP candidate.
Voted for Ahmed Patel, says JD(U)'s lone MLA
Chotubhai Vasava, the lone Janata Dal (United) legislator in the Gujarat assembly said earlier he voted for good friend Ahmed Patel.
A senior leader of the JD(U), KC Tyagi, claimed that Vasava had voted for the BJP on the directive of Bihar Chief minister and party chief Nitish Kumar.
Ambalal Jadhav, General Secretary, JD(U) in Gujarat, however, reaffirmed Vasava had voted for Ahmed Patel.
"Who is KC Tyagi to say anything? Chotubhai has voted, he will tell. Our support is with Ahmed Patel," the JD(U) leader said earlier.
Former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela did not vote for Mr Patel. He said there was no point voting for the Congress since their chances of winning were bleak.