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Both Congress, BJP claim victory in RS polls

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-08-2017 Maulik Pathak

Gandhinagar: Voting for the high-stakes Rajya Sabha polls got underway in Gujarat on Tuesday, with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) claiming that their respective candidates will emerge winners.

The elections are being held in state capital Gandhinagar for the three Rajya Sabha seats with four candidates in the fray.

While the BJP has fielded party president Amit Shah, Union textiles minister Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput as its candidates, the Congress has nominated Ahmed Patel, a veteran politician who is seeking election to the upper house for the fifth time.

The polling will see 182 MLAs cast their vote, and will go on till 5pm. The results are expected to be declared soon after.

For a candidate to win, first-preference votes of as many as 44 MLAs are required.

Forty-four Congress MLAs, out of its 51, who were closeted in a resort to ensure they did not defect to the BJP, arrived in the morning in a bus for the vote.

Congress MLA Shankersinh Vaghela who had earlier announced that he would leave the party, said that he did not cast his vote for Patel. Vaghela, who earlier said that his vote would go to Patel, did not clarify who he voted for.

Apart from the names of the four candidates, the option of NOTA (none of the above) has been included in the ballot papers this time around.

The seven MLAs who did not join the rest of the Congress flock that was taken to a resort near Bengaluru are likely to vote for BJP candidates.

According to a BJP official, Congress MLA from Sanand Karamsinh Patel, who was among the 44 Congress MLAs who were moved to the resort, has cross-voted in favour of the BJP. The party official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

There is also a split in the Nationalist Congress Party votes with one of its two MLAs said to have voted for the BJP, said two persons close to the development, who did not wish to be named.

Former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel told media persons in Gandhinagar that all three BJP candidates would win.

Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia claimed that the Patel’s victory is certain. He added that some MLAs from BJP may cross-vote in favour of Patel.

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