BJP Confident ‘Herded’ Cong MLAs May Not Vote for Their Party Candidate, Has Option of Second Preference Votes
There were reports BJP tried to get in touch with Cong MLAs who returned to the state on Monday
New Delhi: The BJP is very confident that all three candidates it has fielded for the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat on Tuesday will be elected. Party president Amit Shah and textile and I&B minister Smriti Irani are its first two candidates. The BJP confidence stems from the fact that many of the Congress MLAs who had been taken to Bengaluru to be protected from ‘poaching’ may not vote for their party candidate. BJP president Amit Shah is camping i n Ahmedabad and met party MLAs on the eve of polling for the Upper House of Parliament. He is said to be monitoring the whole exercise closely. BJP general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Bhupendra Yadav said “we are moving towards a Congress-free Gujarat and all three candidates of the party in the Rajya Sabha polls will win.” On paper, BJP has enough MLAs to elect only two MPs. However, the party fielded Congress rebel who quit his post, Balwantsinh Rajput, as its third candidate, to defeat Congress heavyweight Ahmed Patel who is seeking his fourth re-election to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.
Rajput’s re-election will depend on the number of votes he secures from Congress rebels, apart from the votes of 31 BJP MLAs that the party can spare for him. In case neither Patel nor Rajput secures 4 5 votes required to win, t he second preference votes of BJP MLAs will come in handy to ensure Rajput’s election. Six Congress MLAs who owe allegiance to rebel Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela had quit their membership of the Gujarat assembly recently, while Vaghela has quit the party but retains his House membership. Vaghela reportedly had a tele p h o n i c c o nve r s a t i o n wit h C on g r e s s c a nd id at e A h med Patel on Monday morning. For Patel, who has been a member of either House of Parliament without a break since 1977, this election has become a prestige issue. Congress has alleged that BJP was indulging in horse trading to win over its MLAs. There were reports that BJP tried to get in touch with the Congress MLAs.