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Gujarat RS polls: Amit Shah, Smriti Irani set to win; Ahmed Patel in trouble after NCP MLA’s support to BJP

While Amit Shah and Smriti Irani are set to emerge victorious, Ahmed Patel’s fate hangs in balance after NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja claimed that his party has asked the two party MLAs to support the BJP candidate.

Edited by: India TV Politics Desk, Ahmedabad [Updated:08 Aug 2017, 8:36 AM IST]
Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Ahmed Patel
Amit Shah, Smriti Irani set to win in today's RS polls, Ahmed Patel in trouble

The MLAs of Gujarat Assembly will vote today to elect three Rajya Sabha MPs from the state. While the ruling BJP has fielded three candidates including its national party president Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani, the opposition Congress is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the victory of senior party leader Ahmed Patel who is also the political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi.

While Amit Shah and Smriti Irani are set to emerge victorious in these elections, Ahmed Patel’s fate has been hanging in balance after internal bickering in the Congress that led to the  resignation of Shankatsinh Vaghela and six other Congress MLAs.

For the third Rajya Sabha seat, the contest is between  Ahmed Patel and Balwant Singh Rajput, a former Congress MLA who has switched over  to BJP.

Ahmed Patel need the support of at least 45 MLAs. The Congress had 57 MLAs in the Assembly two weeks ago. However, six Congress MLAs  have resigned from the party by now and the principal opposition party is left with only 51 MLAs in the state Assembly. Out of these 51, Sankarsinh Vaghela has left the party but is yet to resign from the Assembly. The Congress says that the party whip will apply to Vaghela as well but the former Chief Minister says he will take a call today only. 

The Congress has 50 MLAs in the Assembly minus Vaghela. However, out of these 50, six MLAs are not being trusted fully by the party as they are supposed be camp followers of Vaghela.

Ahmed Patel  is now counting  on the support of the remaining 44 MLAs who were taken to a Bengaluru resort as the party feared that the BJP will try to poach them ahead of Rajya Sabha elections. These MLAs have now returned to Gujarat.

The Congress is also expecting to get the support of  two MLAs of NCP and one MLA of JD(U).

However, in more trouble for Ahmed Patel,  NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja has claimed that his party leadership has asked the two party legislators to support BJP candidate Balwant Singh Rajput in these elections. 

"As per our party's directive, we have to give our vote to BJP's Balvantsinh Rajput. He will be our first preference," said Kandhal, who has openly admitted in the past that he was very close to senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who recently quit the Congress.

"I just received a phone call from my party leaders who asked me to vote for Rajput," said Jadeja.

However, the NCP leadership is yet to issue any official statement in this regard although party MP Supriya Sule, daughter of the party founder Sharad Pawar, said that NCP MLAs in Gujarat would back the Congress. 

Ahmed Patel hopes to get the support of lone JD(U) MLA Chhotu Vasava  in the Assembly but it remains to be seen what stand he takes especially after his party joined hands with the BJP in Bihar. 

Both the BJP and the Congress have said that they are confident of winning the third Rajya Sabha seat.

“ I fully trust my MLAs. The results will be in our favour. I will win and the BJP’s candidate will lose,” Ahmed Patel said.

However, BJP leader Bhupendra Singh said that his party will win all three seats for which elections will be held today.

“ We are heading towards making a Congress-free Gujarat,” he said.

Today’s  Rajya Sabha elections are set to be a thriller. Ahmed Patel would be in deep trouble if even one or two of his 44 Congress MLA indulge in cross-voting as it would lead to counting of second-preferential votes that would pave the way for the victory of BJP candidate Balwant Singh Rajput.

"As per our party's directive, we have to give our vote to BJP's Balvantsinh Rajput. He will be our first preference," said Kandhal, who has openly admitted in the past that he was very close to senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who recently quit the Congress.

"I just received a phone call from my party leaders who asked me to vote for Rajput," said Jadeja.