While Congress veteran Ahmed Patel’s victory in the Rajya Sabha election may not alter any equations within the BJP or lead to any re-alignments, some BJP leaders admitted to embarrassment caused due to the raised stakes in the election. They also pointed at the late-night drama at the Election Commission of India, where over half-a-dozen Union ministers descended on Tuesday thrice to argue the party’s case. “There was no need of making this Rajya Sabha election such a big issue. You should not have raised the pitch when you were uncertain over its ending,” said a BJP leader. He said that the party was expected to contest two seats in Gujarat and win them. “But we took the burden of winning the third seat for an outsider,” the leader said referring to Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress last month. He said that the party decided to fight Vaghela’s battle against Patel without thinking about consequences.
On Wednesday, the BJP put up a brave face saying that Balwantsinh Rajput’s loss to Ahmed Patel did not embarrass the party. “It is neither a shock nor an embarrassment. This is a Pyrrhic victory for the Congress as the seat was won by default not by real numbers,’’ said BJP spokesman G V L Narasimha Rao. “By frantically managing a win in the Rajya Sabha polls, the Congress created disaffection among its ranks and fissures will be available as the state goes to polls.” A party MP from Gujarat was more optimistic. “In a way, it is good for the party. Three victories could have made party cadre overconfident ahead of assembly elections.’’ Incidentally, the party was left red-faced on the eve of completion of Shah’s three-year term as BJP chief. The BJP had been exuding confidence of winning the three seats. It had earlier tried to push the envelope by fielding extra candidates without adequate numbers in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and in Uttarakhand but failed. In July last year, the party won two Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand defeating a united Opposition with the help of some cross-voting.
In Gujarat, the stakes were high right from the nomination. The BJP attacked the Congress for apathy towards the state’s flood-hit people when it moved 44 MLAs to Bengaluru to avoid their possible poaching ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls.