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In what may be termed as a big relief for the Congress party, Ahmed Patel retained his seat in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections. The elections also witnessed an easy win for Amit Shah and Smriti Irani.

Patel got 44 votes that was just enough to beat his rival Congress defector Balwantsinh Rajput and earn a fifth term in Rajya Sabha while Shah and Irani got 46 and 45 votes respectively in the counting that was delayed by over nine hours because of the Congress challenge in the Election Commission first and the BJP’s objections before the returning officer past midnight. 

The election results which were supposed to be declared on Tuesday (August 8) evening were delayed for hours after the Congress party approached the election commission to nullify votes of two its MLAs who have voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Rajya Sabha elections and publicly showed their votes.

What followed after that were the delegations of senior leaders and Union Ministers from both the parties — Congress and BJP — to approach the election commission. Both the parties met the commission officials a number of times putting their view on the matter. 

The Congress party demanded the election commission to not start the voting untill its disqualifies the votes of two Congress MLAs, whose votes were disputed. 

While the Congress remained adamant on their demand,

Terming the charges made by the Congress ridiculous, the BJP said that the Congress is trying to put pressure on the election commission. 

After hours of discussions and meetings, the Election Commission disqualified votes of Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghav Bhai Patel as invalid in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha. The Commission had asked the Returning Officer to start counting of votes after segregating the votes in question. 

The decision came after the Election Commission held its full bench meeting after the Congress party raised the issue to quash the votes of its two MLAs.

Speaking in the matter earlier on Tuesday, former Union Minister P Chidambaram said, “EC must reject these ballot papers as it did in Haryana in June 2016.”

“There was enough evidence that the ballot paper were seen by people other than those authorised,” Chidambaram added.

Congress party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and RPN Singh had also approached the EC to demand quashing of votes by 2 party MLAs, saying that they voted for BJP and publicly showed their votes. 

While the ruckus situation continued, all the reports and Congress’s complaint on nullifying votes of its two MLAs were sent to EC in Delhi.

Speaking on the matter earlier, Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said, “We had raised objection at 9:30AM, but EC has not responded till now, shows that they are being put under pressure.”

“We requested that Congress, BJP and Presiding officer should jointly watch the video, but BJP objected, waiting for EC decision,” Arjun Modhwadia added.

While the Congress party raised the issue of quashing the votes of its two MLAs, a BJP delegation had also reached the Election Commission headquarters. The delegation included Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar, Nirmala Sitharaman, MA Naqvi, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan. 

Hitting out the Congress party, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the allegations are baseless, they (Congress) did not protest about it in morning.

“Requested EC to reject Congress’s plea as once votes are cast then nothing can be done, process was fair. Since morning, Congress has been claiming win, now with defeat staring in their face they are making desperate attempts,” Ravi Shankar Prasad added. 

Polling for the crucial Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat began on Tuesday morning.

Highlights of the Day:

03:20 AM IST | Amit Shah and Smriti Irani leave counting centre in Gandhinagar, amid ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ chants.

03:15 AM IST | Under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership Congress will be strengthened and we will win elections: Ahmed Patel said.

02:30 AM | BJP stands exposed of personal vendetta and political terror. People of Gujarat will give them befitting reply in this year’s election, Ahmed Patel tweeted. 

00:39AM IST| Congress workers in Gandhinagar celebrate EC’s verdict declaring votes of two Congress MLAs as invalid.

11:47 PM IST | EC asks Returning Officer to start counting of votes after segregating the votes in question. 

11:45 PM IST | EC declares votes of Congress MLAs Bhola Bhai Gohil & Raghav Bhai Patel as invalid.

11:00 PM IST | Election Commission will convey order on counting of votes to Returning Officer at 11.30PM.

10:25 PM IST | “With all respect want to tell BJP that this is the war of truth, lies cannot prevail on Gandhi Ji’s land,” RS Surjewala said while hitting out at the Centre.

09:57 PM IST |  BJP delegation leaves Election Commission office

09:30 PM IST | Congress cannot put undue pressure on EC. If Congress party goes to EC the third time, so will we: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

09:06 PM IST | “Have appealed EC to start the counting process immediately because free and fair elections took place,” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

08:30 PM IST |  Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram request EC to must reject these ballot papers.

07:46 PM IST | I’m very much confident, let counting take place: Ahmed Patel, Congress

07:38 PM IST | Congress leaders including Anand Sharma and Randeep Surjewala to also leave for Election Commission.  

07:20 PM IST | Amidst the ruckus ahead of the counting of votes and Congress demanding EC to nullify two of its MLAs votes, a delegation of Union Minister reached the Election Commission in Delhi.  

07:15PM IST | Union ministers including Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar, Nirmala Sitharaman also reach Election Commission.

06:20 PM IST | All the reports and Congress’s complaint on nullifying vote of its two MLAs sent to EC in Delhi. The counting will begin once the reply is received.

05:34 PM IST | Shaktisinh Gohil of the Congress part y said that two Congress MLAs Bholabhai and Raghavji Bhai voted for BJP and publicly showed their votes. 

03: 15 PM IST | Ahmed Patel said he was confident of winning the Rajya Sabha election. Speaking outside the state assembly post the voting ended, the senior leader from Congress said that all the party MLAs stayed together and have voted for the party.

Resonating similar sentiments, Congress Gujarat in charge, Ashok Gehlot said, “Ahmed Patel ji is winning comfortably.”

Meanwhile, Gujarat election officer said that all the 176 MLAs voted in the election.

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02: 00 PM IST | Voting for the three Gujarat Rajya Sabha seats has ended. In what appears to be an easy ride for BJP vice president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani, the battle for the third seat will be a closely fought contest between Balwantsinh Rajput and Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel.

In the neck-to-neck fight, Ahmed Patel might get away with a win by a small margin.

12: 57 PM IST | Hours after former party leader Shankersinh Vaghela voted said that he did not vote for Congress, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh hit out saying that he (Vaghela) should not to forget what Indian National Congress (INC) has done for him over the past years.

Taking the matter to micro blogging site Twitter, Singh said, “My fervent appeal to Bapu Shankar Singh ji Vaghela as an individual and his brother who hosted him in Khajuraho before he became CM. Don’t forget what Congress has done for you. You are a Rajput. Please ensure Ahmed Bhai’s victory. He has been our friend and supporter.”

Earlier today, Shankersinh Vaghela said that he has not voted for Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections. He pointed out that there was no point to vote for Congress when it is certain that they will not win. “I have not voted for Ahmed Patel”, he added.

12: 46 PM IST | 61 BJP MLAs and 43 Congress MLAs have cast their votes so far.

12: 42 PM IST | The Congress MLAs are waiting outside the outside the assembly after casting their votes.

Speaking to media, party legislature Arjun Modhwadia said that so far Congress had gathered 43 votes and a JDU MLA Chhotubhai Vasava was now going to vote for them.

“We have got 43 votes so far, 1 MLA is going to vote. Chhotubhai Vasava (JDU) publicly said he voted for Ahmed bhai,” said Modhwadia.

Speaking further, he said that Congress has achieved more votes than we thought of getting.

 

11: 25 AM IST | Jayant Patel of NCP says that he has voted for Congress as per the direction issued by the party leadership. He said that since the party is a partner of UPA, NCP voted for Congress.

Speaking on the issue of Kandhal Jadeja voting for BJP candidate, Jayant Patel said, “Jadeja (Kandhal Jadeja) ji is first time MLA, he is innocent.”

10: 55 AM IST | Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani says that the entire party has voted as per the whip issued by the BJP party.
“All out party men voted as per the decision, I am confident of victory of all our candidates,” he said.

The CM also said that both the NCP MLA’s in the state have voted for BJP.

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10: 30 AM IST | All the Congress MLAs who were kept in a resort in Anand district, 76 km outside Ahmedabad, have reached Gujarat state assembly. 

The 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat who were kept in a luxurious hotel in Bengaluru after a series of defection of party workers before the Rajya Sabha polls, returned back to the state on Monday only to be shifted to yet another resort near Ahmedabad.

The legislators who were staying in Eagleton Resort were given a ceremonial farewell — including traditional turban, garland and group photo shoot — late night left the hotel and landed in Ahmedabad airport on Monday.

Soon as the flight touched down, all the Congress party men boarded two buses and were immediately rushed to Neejanand Resort in Gujarat’s Anand district, 80 km away from Ahmedabad.

Speaking to the media, senior Congress leader Ahmad Patel said that all the legislatures were together and were confident of victory in the poll.

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Congress had moved all its MLAs to Bengaluru on July 29 alleging horse-trading by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in a desperate attempt to win the Rajya Sabha election.

Notably, 7 Congress members had quit within a span of seven days, a move that party believes was orchestrated by its former leader Shankersinh Vaghela. The three legislators close to Vaghela faction in Congress later joined BJP with unconditional support to the saffron party.

The senior leader of Gujarat Congress, Vaghela had allegedly quit after the party decided of not projecting him as a chief ministerial candidate. The defections were crucial blows to the chances of Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary Ahmed Patel getting of re-elected to the state Rajya Sabha.

10: 15 AM IST | Shailesh Parmar, MLA from Danilimda Ahmedabad Gujarat says that he was confident that of all the four candidates running for the Rajya Sabha seat, Congress Ahmed Patel was going to get the maximum number of votes. “His victory is certain,” he added.

Two MLAs so far have voted for BJP despite being Congress MLAs. Shakti Singh Gohil has taken objection against this: Arjun Modhwadia.

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10: 02 AM IST | While Congress pins hope on Nationalist Congress Party’s support after Sharad Pawar reportedly asked both of its MLAs to vote against BJP, NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja says that he has made his stand very clear’ signalling going against the party decision.

“Had cleared things yesterday itself. You will know everything in the evening,” said NCP MLA.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Jadeja said that he was going to vote for BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls.

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09: 55 AM IST | In a major setback for the Congress, another MLA Raghavji Patel has said he has not voted for Congress candidate.

“I want to stay in politics but not in Congress,” said rebel Congress MLA Patel.

09: 40 AM IST | Former Congres leader Shankersinh Vaghela who quit the party, said that he has not voted for Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections.

Speaking to the media, Vaghela said that there was no point to vote for Congress when it is certain that they will not win. “I have not voted for Ahmed Patel”, he added.

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09: 30 AM IST | INC candidate Ahmed Patel exhumes confidence, says he is going to win.

“When I am confident, party is confident we are going to win. Wait for the result to come,” said Ahmed Patel.

09: 10 AM IST | BJP Candidates Union Minister Smriti Irani and party president Amit Shah arrive at State Legislative Assembly. Gujarat Chief Minister has also reached to cast his vote.

9: 05 AM IST | Voting begins at the Gujarat assembly for Rajya Sabha elections.

09: 00 AM IST | Of the 57 party legislators in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, six quit the party on July 26 and three of them joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on July 28. Of the remaining 51 MLAs, seven, including Shankersinh Vaghela, did not join those who were flown to Bengaluru.

Patel, who needs 45 first preference votes in a House with an effective strength of 176 MLAs, expressed confidence that he will win the election with the support of 44 party MLAs, and the backing of two NCP and a lone JD-U member.

“I have spoken to (NCP chief) Sharad Pawarji and he has promised all help to the Congress. They have even issued a whip. As for Vaghela, he has himself promised that he will vote for me and I believe he will keep his word,” he said.

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08: 55 AM IST | Preparations for Rajya Sabha polls underway in State Legislative Assembly in Gandhinagar

08: 40 AM IST | Gujarat has seldom experienced political suspense since 1995 when the first BJP government came to power and after Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has fortified the state like a fiefdom. All the 26 Lok Sabha candidates in the state are from Modi’s party.

Problems started when Congress veteran, the maverick 77-year-old Vaghela, called it quits at a public show of strength on his July 21 birthday over not being made the chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 assembly elections and not being handed over the complete reins of the campaign.

(With inputs from IANS)

First Published | 8 August 2017 9:31 AM
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Web Title: Ahmed Patel retains Rajya Sabha seat; easy win for Amit Shah and Smriti Irani in Gujarat

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