How BJP is trying to shut Rajya Sabha doors for key Sonia Gandhi aide Ahmed Patel

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New Delhi | Updated: July 28, 2017 6:27:33 PM

BJP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure Congress President Sonia Gandhi's key aide Ahmed Patel doesn't reach Rajya Sabha once again.

ahmed patel, gujarat, rajya sabha election, ahmed patel gujarat, amit shah, sonia gandhi, gujarat rajya sabha election, smriti iraniSenior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and party president Sonia Gandhi. (PTI file)

BJP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s key aide Ahmed Patel doesn’t reach Rajya Sabha once again. This is the reason why the saffron party has fielded Balvantsinh Rajput, a former chief whip of Congress in Gujarat and Siddhpur MLA, who recently resigned, as its third candidate to counter senior Congress leader Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections on August 8. Three Rajya Sabha MPs are to be elected from Gujarat. Apart from Rajput, BJP has fielded two big shots – party president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani – whose elections are all but certain.

Patel, who is trying for a fifth term in the Upper House from the state, is seen as a threat to BJP in the state. Patel is credited with the Congress’ win in 2004 and 2009 General elections. As Gujarat goes to polls later this year, beating Patel in the Rajya Sabha election would serve as a morale booster for BJP cadres in the state. By some design, the saffron party has also engineered a break-up within the Congress ahead of the Rajya Sabha poll.

The BJP has 125 MLAs in Gujarat, while the Congress tally has been reduced to 51 after six MLAs of the state switched sides. To win a Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat, a party will need the support of 47 MLAs. Three Congress MLAs had quit on Thursday, while three others quit today. With Rajput as BJP candidate now, it is expected that more Congress MLAs would vote for him, instead of Patel. Recently in the Presidential election, 11 Congress legislators had cross-voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind. It would not be surprising if they do so again in the upcoming Rajya Sabha poll.

According to Mint, Rajput is the chairman and managing director of leading oil manufacturing company Gokul Refoils and Solvents Ltd. He was one of the richest elected MLAs of the state in 2012.

However, there could be a twist in the tale of BJP stealing Congress votes for its candidate. Recently, veteran leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who recently quit the Congress, had said he would vote for Patel in the upcoming poll if party’s state in-charge apologised and took back his allegations against the former. According to PTI, Patel had approached Vaghela on Tuesday. “Ahmed Patel came to meet me last night. He said I should fight the Rajya Sabha election, which I refused. I assured him that I will vote for him in the election to the Rajya Sabha seat as I have not yet resigned as an MLA,” Vaghela told PTI.

According to the PTI report, Gehlot had alleged that Vaghela left Congress as the latter was being blackmailed with the threat of CBI and ED probes.

If all the 11 MLAs who voted for Kovind earlier, votes for BJP pick, Patel would end up in the loser’s lead. However, the Congress would pin its hope on two NCP MLAs. There was also on JD(U) MLA in the state but with the party joining hands with BJP in Bihar, the MLA would likely not risk voting for Patel. In such a case, Patel would have to keep his fingers crossed or pull out a miracle from the back door. Lets wait and watch.

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