And Now, Gu­jarat Has a Ver­sion of the Florida Bal­lot

Drama shifted to Delhi as Cong and BJP made three vis­its to EC

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - DP.Bhat­tacharya@ times­group.com

Gandhinagar: The drama un­fold in waves, one af­ter an­other in the Gu­jarat cap­i­tal on the day of the Ra­jya Sabha elec­tions to three seats. Less than an hour af­ter polling be­gan, Congress rebel Shankersinh Vaghela an­nounced that he had not voted for his ‘dear friend’ Ahmed Pa­tel, as he was los­ing the elec­tion. Vaghela had ear­lier claimed that he had “re­served his vote for Ahmed Bhai.” Ta k i n g c u e f r o m Va g h e l a , h i s son Ma­hen­dras­inh Vaghela and camp fol­low­ers Raghavji Pa­tel, Dhar­men­dras­inh Jadeja, Bho­lab­hai Go­hil, Ashok Chaud­hary also voted for BJP. As the day pro­gressed, one of the 44 quar­an­tined Congress MLAs also voted for BJP in­creas­ing the worry lines on Ahmed Pa­tel’s face, though he main­tained a stoic face of con­fi­dence re­it­er­at­ing his con­fi­dence in his MLAs. The poll math was queered when NCP MLA Kand­hal Jadeja sided with the BJP but his party col­league Jayant Pa­tel voted for Ahmed Pa­tel. Sources in BJP and the Vaghela camp, how­ever, were cer­tain that Jayant had ac­tu­ally cast his vote for the BJP.

Sim­i­lar con­fu­sion shrouded over the vote of Ch­hotu Vasava the lone JDU MLA in Gu­jarat. While Vasava hob­nobbed with the BJP lead­ers when he came to cast his vote, he went on to claim that he had voted for Ahmed Pa­tel. He told the me­dia that he felt pity for the Congress and voted for the party’s can­di­date. The king­maker of Congress Ahmed Pa­tel soon went to meet Vasava and thanked him for his sup­port. With Vasava’s one vote and one of NCP, Pa­tel looked poised to win as he re­port­edly had also se­cured 43 Congress votes. To make the cut, all he needed were 45 votes. He and se­nior Congress leader Arjun Mod­va­dia soon claimed vic­tory.

But the twist in the tale came at 5:00 pm, when the count­ing was to star t. Congress elec­tion agent Shak­tis­inh Go­hil raised an ob­jec­tion against t wo cross-vot­ers Raghavji Pa­tel and Bho­lab­hai Go­hil, al­leg­ing that the duo had shown their votes to BJP polling agent apart from its party pres­i­dent Amit Shah in vi­o­la­tion of elec­tion rules. He de­manded that the video record­ing of the vot­ing be ex­am­ined and count­ing should not be­gin without re­solv­ing the is­sue. The drama soon shifted to Delhi and the big­wigs of Congress and BJP made three to four rep­re­sen­ta­tions be­fore the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. By the time Au­gust 8 had ended, it was not clear whether Ahmed Pa­tel had won. That will be known only af­ter an­other sun­rise.

Vaghela an­nounced that he had not voted for his ‘dear friend’ Ahmed Pa­tel, as he was los­ing the elec­tion

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