Yesterday Congress leader Ahmed Patel tweets on attack on Rahul Gandhi’s convoy. Mounts offensive against BJP led state government. He says, “strongly condemn the attack on Rahul Ji’s convoy in presence of police. Is it possible without state connivance? Attack on an SPG protectee is yet another manifestation of BJP’s frustration and government’s absolute failure to protect law and order in Gujarat.”
Ahmed Patel, Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha and political adviser of Congress president Sonia Gandhi clearly lambasted Gujarat government for attack on party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi on last Friday in flood torn Dhanera of Banaskantha district. He alleged that the state BJP government’s attitude was undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical towards Rahul ji’s visit.
In a chat with Gujarat Siyasat – a leading fortnightly publishing from Ahmedabad, he fired salvo against state government and its so called gooons for this attack. He said that to win a Rajya Sabha seat, BJP was taking such heinous route. BJP is resorting to unconstitutional means to ensure that I am defeated. First they tried to buy out our MLAs. Their game plan was to manage 22 of our MLAs. When they miserably failed, they started using state machinery to intimidate our MLAs. But our MLAs refused to sell their souls. A political party cannot assume or take over the role of the Election Commission. Now, they have come up with the option of NOTA as a last-minute measure to ensure a political verdict in their favour. “My defeat is their agenda,” said Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha Ahmed Patel.
Meanwhile, though Gujarat Congress is trying hard to keep its flock of MLAs together, to ensure Rajya Sabha candidate Ahmed Patel’s victory, a mere four votes could play spoilsport for the political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on polling day.
The polls, for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat, are to be held on August 8. While 45 votes are required for a win, Congress is banking on 48 votes along with four from MLAs of other parties. However, some of the Congress MLAs, camping in Bengaluru with party leaders, are on the fence and may show an unexpected inclination on the day of polling.
A senior BJP leader said, “NOTA can play a very important role here. If MLAs vote for NOTA, they cannot be disqualified for six years as per People’s Representation Act. Meanwhile, seven MLAs of Congress including Shankersinh Vaghela who are not in the Bengaluru camp can vote for NOTA. MLAs from NCP, GPP and JDU also can vote against Ahmed Patel which fades his chances.”
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 a case, the candidate who received the maximum second references will be declared the winner.
BJP has a total of 121 MLAs, and as the party leaders say, they will divide the preference among them. 45 BJP MLAs are likely to give first preference to Amit Shah and another 45 to Smriti Irani, while the remaining 31 will give their preference to Balwantsinh Rajput and he would still require 14 more votes to win. Here, if Rajput gets more second preference votes against Patel, he could win.
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior journalist in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.