BJP chief Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and newly inducted former Congress MLA Balwantsinh Rajput, who resigned yesterday and joined the saffron party, today filed their nomination papers for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. While Shah and Irani were nominated by the central leadership a few days back.
Rajput, who was Congress' chief whip in the Assembly, was declared the BJP's third candidate shortly after he quit both from the House and the party yesterday. Rajput is pitted against senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who has been re-nominated for the August 8 Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.
Of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from the state, the term of three -- Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel -- is ending on August 18.
The Congress nominee can sail through if he musters the support of 47 MLAs. In the 182-member Assembly, the strength of Congress has gone down to 51, as six of its MLAs have resigned since yesterday. While three MLAs, including Rajput quit yesterday and joined the ruling party, as many others resigned today.
It is believed that the resignations have been orchestrated at the behest of former Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela, who had resigned from the party as also as the Leader of Opposition (LoP) last week. He, however, continues to be an MLA, and said he would resign from the Assembly after the RS poll.
Talking to media after the trio filed their nominations today, BJP in-charge for Gujarat, Bhupendra Yadav exuded confidence that all the party candidates will win the election easily. When asked about the possibility of Vaghela joining the BJP, Yadav said it is up to him to decide.
"Vaghela will have to take that call. However, the points raised by him while leaving the party speak volumes about how the Congress is functioning. Our doors are open for all those who believe in PM Narendra Modi's development agenda," Yadav told reporters.