The two Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat fell vacant after BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in the general elections.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a petition filed by the Congress to pass an order asking the Election Commission to conduct by-elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat simultaneously. Denying the request, the apex court said that since the Election Commission has already issued a notification for the polls, the court cannot interfere in the process. It asked Congress leader Paresh Dhanani to file an election petition once polls conclude.
The two Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat fell vacant after BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in the general elections. While Amit Shah won from Gandhinagar parliamentary seat, Irani emerged as the giant-slayer by defeating Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP has fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and OBC leader from north Gujarat Jugalji Thakor for the two seats. The two leaders will file their nomination papers today. According to the schedule announced by the Election Commission, the election to fill both the seats will be held on July 5 separately.
Dhanani, the Congress Legislature Party leader, had alleged in his petition that the elections were being conducted separately to benefit the BJP. The BJP has 100 MLAs while the Congress has 71 in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
However, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court that vacancies for bypolls to all Houses are considered separate vacancies. Therefore, separate notifications are issued and separate elections are held though the schedule can be the same.
The Congress has argued that separate polls will enable the BJP to win both the seats despite having lesser numbers for the second seat. The party said that the BJP will win both seats in the first-past-the-post system because it has 20 more MLAs. If the Election Commission conducts elections simultaneously, Congress can win one seat.