Ahmadabad. A day before the Rajya Sabha elections, 44 Gujarat Congress legislators who were staying at Bengaluru`s Eagleton Resort, are now back and staying at a resort near Ahmedabad. The MLAs arrived at Ahmedabad’s Kempegowda International Airport in the wee hours of August 7 amid heavy security. Congress leader Ahmed Patel met all MLAs at the resort this evening and discussed about Tuesday voting .
Battle lines are drawn for this election but after hectic political maneuvering whole day, it seems Ahmed Patel who is seeking his fifth term will defeat congress dissident and BJP candidate Balwant Rajput. Patel is likely to get two NCP vote and a vote from Janata Dal U. Shankersinh Waghela who spearheaded anti Congress after leaving party will vote for Ahmed Patel.
Election of Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha on August 8 would have been a routine affair had the BJP not fielded its third candidate from Gujarat.
The BJP has a total 121 MLAs, and according to the party leaders, they will divide the preference among them. 45 BJP MLAs will give first preference votes to Shah and another 45 to Irani, while the remaining 31 will give their preference to Rajput, who would still require 14 more votes to win.
The Congress claims support of 44 party MLAs, two of NCP, one JD(U) and one GPP MLA. The party is not counting on the seven Congress MLAs, including Shankersinh Vaghela, who did not join the camp at Bengaluru. If none of the Congress voters cross-vote, Congress candidate Ahmed Patel will get 48 votes and will be elected.
However, the Congress circles are fingers crossed over Patel’s chances of entering the Rajya Sabha for the fifth consecutive term since 1993. They fear that Balwantsinh Rajput may give Patel, political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, a tough fight as per the formula, each candidate needs 45 votes to win as the total strength of MLAs has been reduced to 176 following the resignation of six Congress MLAs. If any candidate does not get enough votes as first preference, the votes he/she receives as second preference will be considered in the second round of counting. In such case, the candidate who received maximum second references will be declared the winner.
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior journalist based at Ahmedabad. He is the editor of Gujarat Siyasat