AICC Keeps Fin­gers Crossed on Eve of Pa­tel Re-elec­tion Bid

NCP and JDU ex­tend sup­port to Pa­tel but 1 MLA says vot­ing for BJP

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Congress claims it is touch with 2 BJP MLAs too Our Po­lit­i­cal Bureau

New Delhi: On the eve of the high­volt­age Ra­jya Sabha elec­tions in Gu­jarat, in which So­nia Gandhi’s po­lit­i­calsec­re­taryAhmedPatel­is­fac­ing an all-out ef­fort by the BJP to de­feat him, the Congress cen­tral lead­er­ship is keep­ing its fin­gers crossed.

The party re­ceived NCP’s of­fi­cial sup­port on Mon­day but later in the day one of its two MLAs said that he will vote for BJP. Given the highly fluc­tu­at­ing num­ber-games, the un­pre­dictable ef­fect of ‘Nota fac­tor’ and the pos­si­bil­ity of cross-vot­ing Congress cir­cles are edgy, though its lead­ers said they have the num­bers to make Pa­tel sur­vive the big­gest po­lit­i­cal test of his four-decade ca­reer.

Ad­ding to the sus­pense, rebel Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela sounded am­bigu­ous, keep­ing Congress and BJP guess­ing with which side the crafty veteran would ink the deal at the last mo­ment.

GivenPatelis­the­mostcru­cial‘mover and shaker’ of the So­nia Gandhi es­tab­lish­ment, it’s strate­gi­cally im­por­tant for the AICC that he scrapes through. On the other hand, the im­por­tancethe­con­testhasac­quired­has be­come ev­i­dent from the fact that many in the New Delhi’s po­lit­i­cal cir­cles are per­ceiv­ing this as an ‘Amit Shah Vs Ahmed Pa­tel’ fight, as they claim­both­have­been­lockedin­not-sose­cret­po­lit­i­ca­land­per­son­al­fight­s­for quite some time. Po­lit­i­cal cir­cles in Delhi also feel BJP’s all-out bid to trip Patelis­meant­tosetthe­at­mo­spher­ics for the De­cem­ber as­sem­bly polls in Gu­jarat with the BJP fac­ing re­sent­ment of the Pa­tel com­mu­nity.

WhileBJPpres­i­den­tAmitSha­hand Union­tex­tile­andI&Bmin­is­terSm­riti Irani are sure to win their seats, the fight­is­for­thethird­be­tweenPate­land Con­gress­rebel-turned-BJP­can­di­date Bal­wantsinh Ra­jput. With a min­i­mum of 45 votes re­quired for Pa­tel to win,theCon­gress­camp­ispitchin­gits hope on 44 party MLAs (af­ter de­ser­tion of some MLAs be­long­ing to the Vaghela camp) who have re­turned to Gu­jarat from a Ban­ga­lore re­sort, one of the two NCP MLAs and one MLA each of JDU and Gu­jarat Pari­var­tan Party, mak­ing it a to­tal of 47, on pa­per. The wor­ry­ing fac­tor, how­ever, is whether Vaghela has ‘sleeper cells’ among the 44 MLAs. The Congress camp also claimed that it is in touch with a cou­ple of BJP MLAs too. “Our MLAs are very com­mit­ted as they­did­notleaveeven­theirhome­son the oc­ca­sion of Rak­sha­band­han, although we were keen to make every pos­si­ble ar­range­ment. They are not ready to go any­where be­cause they want to cast their votes first. I am go­ing to win and BJP’s one can­di­date will lose…The BJP not only wants a Congress free In­dia, but they want to re­move SC and ST reser­va­tions and wants a mi­nor­ity free House,” Pa­tel said in Ahmedabad. His com­ment on reser­va­tion is be­lieved to be tar­geted onSC/STMLA­son­both­sides.

On his part, Vaghela chose to keep the sus­pense alive. He told a TV news chan­nel, “each and every voter is an owner of his vote. I have a good re­la­tions with Ahmedb­hai Pa­tel. It is for me­andAhmedPatel­tode­cide­whatto do and what not to do,” he said.

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