The Gujarat Congress has expelled 14 Gujarat MLAs for cross-voting in favour of BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections. The election had seen a high profile drama with voting getting delayed.
The MLAs – Mahendra Vaghela, Raghavji Patel, Amit Choudhary, Bholabhai Gohil, CK Raulji, Kamsi Makwana, Hakubha Jadeja – were supposed to be close to Shanhkersinh Vaghela, who revolted against the party recently.
The MLAs have been expelled for six years from the party. Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi beat Balwantsinh Rajput, till recently the party’s chief whip in the state Assembly before defecting to BJP, polling 44 votes, in the first RS polls in Gujarat in two decades which saw a contest instead of official candidates of major parties getting elected unopposed. Rajput secured 38 votes. BJP chief Amit Shah made his maiden entry into the house of elders and so did party nominee and Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, clinching 46 votes each, an EC official said.
“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,” Patel, who secured a fifth Rajya Sabha term after the tough electoral fight, tweeted after his victory.
The Congress had complained that its two rebel MLAs, Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, who are close to maverick leader Shankersinh Vaghela, had violated the electoral code of conduct by displaying their ballot papers to BJP nominees Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput and not just to the Congress official polling agent.
The EC’s decision to cancel the votes of two Congress MLAs 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.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said BJP would legally challenge the EC’s decision rejecting the votes of two Congress MLAs who had backed his party.
Before counting was taken up following the Election Commission’s order rejecting the votes cast by Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel for allegedly showing their ballots to Amit Shah in violation of rules, a high-voltage drama unfolded at Nirvachan Sadan, the poll panel’s headquarters in New Delhi. TV footages, however, showed that Patel displayed his ballot to an unidentified person present in the voting hall.