Closing Hours for Gujarat RS Polls & it’s Still too Close to Call
Analysts believe the contest has assumed a “winner takes all” proportion
Gandhinagar: Rarely do Rajya Sabha elections create any excitement, but a day before Gujarat legislators choose three candidates to the Upper House, analysts, speculators and punters are still unsure if Congress leader Ahmed Patel would be one of them. While BJP has issued a statement claiming victory for all three of its candidates — Shah, Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput, who is one of the legislators who left Congress to join BJP last month — Patel has claimed that he has the requisite support and more to go to the Upper House for a fifth term.
Patel received 44 Congress MLAs who were camping at a resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru at the airport in the wee hours on Monday and send the flock to the confine- ments of relative safety of yet another resort some 82 km away from Ahmedabad.
Shah has held a series of meetings with his party men since arriving in Ahmedabadon Sunday both in his house and in BJP headquarters inGandhinagaronMonday.IfPatel loses, that would be a humiliation for the Congress and a probable rout of the party in ensuing Gujarat election later this year. However, if he wins, that could be a setback for Shah’s ‘Chankaya’ image. Af t er si x of it s MLAs quit , Cong ress now i s lef t wit h 51 MLAs (read votes). While prima facie the number is more than sufficient for Patel, at least 7 of these votes are doubtful. They include those of senior leader S h a n ke r s i n h Va g h e l a , who par ted wit h Congress on his 77t hbi r t hday last month, his son Mahendrasi n h Vaghel a, and Bholabhai Gohil, CK Raolji, Raghavji Patel, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and Amit Chaudhary, all vocal supporters of Vaghela.
Also, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, which has two votes, has not yet come out with its decision though Patel on Monday claimed support of NCP members as well as a lone Janata Dal (United) member.However, later in the day, Kutiyana NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja told the media that he has been instructed by Praful Patel that NCP in Gujarat should vote for BJP. When contacted NCP Gujaratin-charge Rajendra Jain interestingly said that no such whip has been issued so far and formal instruction in this regard is expected late in the night. NCP leader Praful Patelhad on Sunday said Congress had ditched the party in 2012 Gujarat elections and that his party was now trying to stand on its own feet in the state.