Congress candidate Ahmed Patel beat BJP nominee Balwantsinh Rajput in a bitterly fought Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, to secure his 5th term in the Upper House.
Patel was declared victorious late on Tuesday night after several dramatic developments that played out through the evening. Patel made the cut after Election Commission rejected the votes of two dissident Congress MLAs for violating electoral rules.
The EC’s decision to cancel the votes of two Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel, brought down the requirement for an outright victory for a candidate to 44 from 45. Ahmed Patel secured 44, but would have won with even lesser number of votes given the fact that Rajput could clinch only 38.
EC disqualified the two votes because they allegedly showed their ballots to BJP, which is a clear violation of rules.
BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput was until very recently Congress’ chief whip in the state Assembly before he defected to the BJP.
After his win, Patel slammed the BJP for being aggressive and using money power.
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
Patel also thanked his party MLAs for pulling off the dramatic victory.
“I am happy and I thank my party leadership, my MLAs, party’s rank and file who worked like a family. It was a tough election which we won,” Patel said.
A defeat for Patel, apart from being seen as a personal setback to Sonia, would have left Congress rank and file hugely demoralised in a state where Assembly elections are to take place later this year.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said BJP would legally challenge the EC’s decision rejecting the votes of two Congress MLAs who had reportedly voted for the BJP.
Drama unfolded at Nirvachan Sadan, the poll panel’s headquarters in New Delhi as several Congress and BJP leaders paraded to the EC with their grievances.
Apart from Patel, BJP chief Amit Shah made his debut to the Upper House along with Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, who secured her second term from Gujarat.
Both Shah and Irani fetched 46 votes each, the EC said.
This was the first Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat in about two decades, which saw a contest instead of official candidates of major parties getting elected unopposed.