In yet another twist to the Rajya Sabha polls taking place in Gujarat on Tuesday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that the party will vote for Congress but one legislature is defying orders. He has also reportedly asked senior party leader Praful Patel to go to Gujarat and ensure that its MLAs register their vote in the favor of Congress candidate Ahmed Patel.
Interestingly, Pawar’s remarks come soon after NCP leader Kandhal Jadeja announced that the party will support the Bhartiya Janata Party’s candidate Balvantsinh Rajput. “Our party has asked us to support BJP in tomorrow’s Rajya Sabha elections,” Jadeja said. The other NCP legislature from the state is Jayant Patel.
The Sharad Pawar-led party has been a close ally of the Congress, and consequently part of the UPA. The party had however, remained tight lipped about its support in the polls. Gujarat NCP Chief Praful Patel was quoted on Sunday saying that they are yet to decide whom to vote for. “Though the NCP was part of the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, there is no such alliance at present. Though we are a small party with only two MLAs, we have suddenly become important and people are now searching for these two legislators,” he had told reporters in Anand.
Gujarat has three seats for Rajya Sabha. While BJP has fielded Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput, Congress has pitched Ahmed Patel. While both Amit Shah and Smriti Irani are expected to win the polls, it is the third seat that the real contest is for. Each candidate needs 45 votes to enter Rajya Sabha.
The election has become interesting since the exit of Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela and resignation of six MLAs of the party in the last few days, bringing down its tally in the 182-member House from 57 to 51. With the contest so tight, in a bid to avoid defections and cross-voting Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru last week.
Voting is currently underway and the results will be declared at 5 pm.