Rebel Congress leader Shakarsinh Vaghela on Tuesday asserted that the has not voted for the official party nominee Ahmed Patel in the crucial Gujarat Rajya Sabha being held here.
Six of his supporters – Mahendrasinh Vaghela, C K Raolji, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Amit Chaudhary, Bholabhai Gohil, Raghavji Patel – also said they have voted for the BJP candidate.
"I have not voted for the Congress, because Ahmed Patel is not going to win and there is no point wasting a vote. We have pleaded so many times to listen to the grievances of the MLAs but it is unfortunate that they did not listen," Vaghela told reporters after polling.
He claimed: "Four-five more MLAs from the 44 that the Congress is banking upon are also not going to vote for the party."
Patel needs 45 first preference votes to win his seat in the present House of 176 legislators. He falls short of one vote and believes that two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs and one of the Janata Dal-United will vote for him.
The Congress had 57 legislators, but was reduced to 51 after six of them resigned in July. At least six of these are believed to be loyalists of rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela.
"I have full confidence that I will win," Patel put up a brave face.
When asked about cross-voting by Vaghela and his supporters, he shrugged, "So what (we never counted them)."
Meanwhile, adding to the woes of Congress and Patel’s dream of getting elected for the fifth time, two Congress MLAs -- Dharmendra Jadeja and Raghavji Patel – resigned from the party to vote for BJP's candidate Balwantsinh Rajput.
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 Vaghela and six other Congress MLAs.
As many as 176 legislators are expected to exercise their franchise for four contestants battling it out for three seats. The ruling BJP's third candidate is Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput.
With 122 MLAs in the House of 182, two BJP candidates will easily sail through, but Patel with 44 Congress MLAs, appears to be falling short by one to win his seat.