Gujarat Rajya Sabha Polls: Setback for Ahmed Patel as NCP backs BJP

Gujarat Rajya Sabha Polls: Setback for Ahmed Patel as NCP backs BJP”

The BJP has fielded a relative of Mr Vaghela, Balwantsinh Rajput, as its candidate against Mr Patel, just hours after it acquired him from the Congress. Congress needs 45 MLAs to win a lone RS seat but they stand on a very sticky wicket as of now.

A win for Ahmed Patel will infuse a fresh lease of life in Congress ahead of the assembly elections. On Monday, Mr. Patel claimed that the NCP has chose to support his candidature. "We are confident of our victory and there is no reason to be alarmed", he added.

After meeting the Gujarat Congress MLAs on Monday, party leader Ahmed Patel said that he has full confidence on all of them. The BJP's third candidate is Balwantsinh. Congress' uncertainty began on July 21, when Leader of the Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela announced he was quitting the Congress.

Since Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in Gujarat at the end of the year, disqualification is not a real fear for MLAs.

Though it might seem that Shah, who is now also an MLA in Gujarat, has taken the decision to take on Patel to deliver a blow to the Congress, which Patel's defeat would be, and an attempt to deliver an often-repeated phrase by the BJP, of a 'Congress Mukt Bharat.' It might be too simplistic a view. "Bad timing of shifting MLAs is something which will make them (Congress) suffer", ANI quoted the former Congress leader as saying.

Of the remaining 176, each candidate must secure one-fourth of the total votes plus one to get elected. Shah has already set a target of winning 150 seats in the 186-member assembly, while the Congress has witnessed desertions right from the top state leadership. Vaghela was apparently upset for not being named party's chief ministerial candidate.

MLAs from Gujarat, 44 in number, were flown down to Bengaluru in three batches by the party senior leadership on last Saturday. However, NCP leader Praful Patel on Saturday said his party had not yet decided on extending support to any particular party in these polls.

However, NCP changed its position on 7 August and rallied behind Patel. On their return this morning, they have been put up in a resort in Anand district. The Congress camp also claimed that it is in touch with a couple of BJP MLAs too. So we have zeroed down on certain individuals and are trying to pursue them to vote in Patel's favour.

No single election for a Rajya Sabha berth has perhaps been the subject of so much speculation as Ahmed Patel's attempt to be a member of the Council of States for the fifth consecutive time next week.

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