The Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat scheduled to be held on Tuesday (August 8) has become a battle of prestige between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief strategist Amit Shah and Congress president Sonia Gandhi‘s ‘chanakya’ Ahmed Patel.
The elections for three seats of the Upper House from Gujarat, where Assembly polls are due later this year, have gathered huge interest with BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani entering the fray and the Congress putting up its heavyweight Ahmed Patel.
Stakes are high for both the ruling BJP and the Congress. However, more than the BJP it is the Congress which is feeling the heat particularly after the dramatic revolt in its state unit which saw the party shifting 44 MLAs to Bengaluru to prevent them from being ‘poached’.
But why are the Rajya Sabha polls in Guajarat important exactly? Here is the maths:
Gujarat has strength of 182 MLAs. Six Congress MLAs have resigned, so the strength of the House is now 176.
The Gujarat Assembly can elect three MPs to Rajya Sabha at one time.
Rajya Sabha has preferential voting, as of now there are four candidates (1 from Congress, three from BJP).
MLAs have to give their preferential votes indicating first choice, second, third, fourth (as per number of candidates) or they can choose NOTA.
As per the present strength of the House, a candidate needs 45 first preference votes to get elected.
The Congress, which earlier had 57 members, has only 44 MLAs with it. Six of the party MLAs resigned recently. MLAs resigned. Veteran leader Shankersinh Vaghela is keeping cards close to his chest.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN
Congress gets all 44 votes plus two from NCP and one each from the JDU and GPP. If Patel gets 48 first preference votes, he will to go the Rajya Sabha along with Amit Shah and Smriti Irani.
In case Congress doesn’t get 45 first preference votes then second preference votes will be counted. The BJP with 121 MLAs in the House can easily get its two candidates elected. But for the third candidate, Balwantsinh Rajput, it has just 31 votes going by the party tally.
The Congress’ strategy is to atleast get 45 votes to send Ahmed Patel to Rajya Sabha and get much needed impetus ahead of the crucial state Assembly elections.
VAGHELA MAINTAINS CURIOUS SILENCE
Shankersinh Vaghela, who recently announced that he asked to leave the party by Congress leadership, has maintainede a curious silence on his choice of candidate for Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, but said Congress nominee Ahmed Patel remained his ‘friend’.
The former Gujarat chief minister said he was no longerin touch with the Congress leadership and dismissed the talks that he was in contact with the BJP members over voting in the election to the Upper House of Parliament.
“Each and every voter is the owner of his vote. The vote is the personal property of an MLA (for the Rajya Sabha election). Therefore, I do not want to reveal whom I will vote for,” Vaghela told reporters reporters in Ahmedabad.