The Gujarat High Court on Monday issued summons to the Election Commission and the three winners of recent Rajya Sabha polls — Congress leader Ahmed Patel, BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani — on a petition moved by BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput challenging the Election Commission’s decision to invalidate votes of two rebel Congress MLAs.
Rajput, who had quit the Congress to join BJP just ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls, had lost to Congress nominee Ahmed Patel by a margin of six votes. While Patel had received 44 votes, the minimum votes required to win the election, Rajput got 38.
After a brief hearing, Justice Bela Trivedi issued summons to all the respondents returnable to September 21 when the court will hear Rajput’s plea seeking a stay on the result.
The Election Commission had invalidated the votes of two rebel Congress MLAs — Raghavji Patel and Bhola Gohel — for showing their ballot papers to BJP leaders during the election that amounted to violation of the poll procedures.
During the voting, Congress leaders had raised objection to it in writing, but the Returning Officer rejected their plea. The Congress leaders then took up the matter to the Election Commission in Delhi which decided to invalidate the votes of Raghavji and Bhola.
In his petition, Rajput has contended that once the returning officer (RO) had rejected the objection raised by the Congress leaders during the voting, the poll panel had no power to issue any direction to the RO for accepting or rejecting any vote. He has also claimed that two more Congress MLAs had showed their ballots to “unauthorised persons” and their votes should also be held invalid.
He has also accused Ahmed Patel of resorting to “corrupt” practices to win the election. Rajput alleged that in order to win the election, Ahmed Patel indulged in bribery and kept 44 Congress MLAs in captivity at a Bangalore resort and spent huge sum of money on their ‘entertainment’.