The Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections have turned unprecedented and dramatic. The counting of votes have been suspended following complaints by both Congress and BJP to the Election Commission.
At least never in the recent political history of Gujarat, Rajya Sabha elections have acquired such proportions. In the normal process, the results would have been announced by 7 pm. However, it is taking a long time for the Gujarat results to be declared.
Here are the reasons why:
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Congress candidate Ahmed Patel’s victory or defeat now hinges on just one vote. He needs votes of 45 MLAs to emerge victorious. However, some cases of cross-voting have taken place. Out of 51 Congress MLAs, at least six have voted for BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput. Moreover, one of the two NCP MLAs and the lone JD(U) MLA may also have indulged in cross-voting by defying party whip. While the NCP MLA voted for Rajput, JD(U) MLA claimed he had voted for Patel.
However, even this would not have stopped the Election Commission to go ahead with counting and declare the result. But two Congress allegedly went against the rules and showed the voting slips to unauthorised persons. Congress has taken objection to it and moved the Election Commission demanding cancellation of the two votes.
It is still not clear whether these two votes would be the clincher but given the tight situation where each and every vote matters, neither Congress nor BJP wants to take a chance.
So far, BJP and Congress delegations have visited the Election Commission’s office on at least three occasions after voting got over and counting process had already started. The counting stands suspended since then.
The Congress delegation included Rajya Sabha MP and former Union minister P Chidambaram.
The heavyweight BJP delegation included Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan. Coincidentally, all these ministers are Rajya Sabha members. While Prasad is the Law Minister, Jaitley has held the portfolio in the past.
The Congress delegation demanded that votes of two party MLAs be quashed. However, BJP is against this. It said Congress was late in raising the objections. They should have petitioned the poll panel in the morning.
But the Congress replied that they had raised objection at 9.30 am, but the returning officer in Gujarat did not respond.
The BJP delegation argued that once votes are cast then nothing can be done. The votes have been cast and it would be impossible to distinguish the slips which have already been dropped in the box. Claiming that the voting process was fair, they said now with defeat staring in their face the Congress leaders are making desperate attempts to stall the process.
Congress has requested the Election Commission to go by precedents. One of their MLAs had mistakenly showed his vote in Haryana and his vote was rejected. Same was done in Gujarat earlier. Hence, it said, the votes should be rejected this time too.
WILL CONGRESS MOVE SUPREME COURT?
The matter may now reach the Supreme Court. If EC rejects the Congress’ plea, the main Opposition party is likely to move the apex court to obtain stay on the results. In that case, it would take some time before the matter is finally settled and results are announced.