Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel has been re-nominated as the party’s candidate for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat. Patel is set to file his nomination papers later today.
According to party sources, Patel, who is political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will file his nomination papers in Gandhinagar today.
67-year-old Patel, if re-elected again, will become a Rajya Sabha member for the fifth time. His first-term in the Upper House of the Parliament had begun in 1993.
The election to the Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat will be held on August 8. The last date for filing of nominations for 10 Rajya Sabha vacancies from Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh is July 28.
Of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, the term of three- Smriti Irani (BJP), Dilipbhai Pandya (BJP) and Ahmed Patel (Congress) – is coming to an end on August 18.
Meanwhile, in a meeting of Congress MLAs held in the state party headquarters, Mohansinh Rathwa was elected as the in-charge Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Gujarat assembly, till a new leader is appointed.
The new LoP had to be appointed after Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was the LoP in the state assembly, quit the party on July 21.
Even though Vaghela quit the party, he had said he would resign as an MLA only after the Rajya Sabha polls. His decision is seen as a veiled warning that he would try to ensure the defeat of the Congress candidate.
Despite Vaghela’s threat, the Congress says it is confident of Patel’s victory.
The Congress has 57 MLAs in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly. It needs the support of 47 of them to get its candidate through. The main opposition party also has the support of two NCP legislators and one of the JD(U).
The party said that it would not face any problem in the re-election of Ahmed Patel, as any “indiscipline” by MLAs in the Rajya Sabha polls would invite disqualification for six years.
“A whip was issued to each MLA to vote for the party’s official candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections,” said party spokesperson.
(With inputs from PTI)