Chhotubhai Vasava, the lone JD(U) MLA in Gujarat and the party’s state president, has alleged that NCP leader Praful Patel called him on August 7 to suggest that he vote for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections the next day. The bitterly fought elections ended with Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi’s aide Ahmed Patel scraping through with 44 votes to become the third candidate to be elected from Gujarat after BJP’s Amit Shah and Smriti Irani.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Friday, Vasava said, “Praful Patel called me on August 7 and said I should keep in mind the JD(U)-NCP alliance for Gujarat (assembly elections later this year), when casting my vote for the Rajya Sabha elections on August 8.”
Asked if Patel asked him specifically to vote for the BJP, Vasava said, “Patel’s use of language meant that I should vote for the BJP. He wanted to pull me towards the BJP. His clear indication was that I should support the BJP… But I told him frankly that I don’t approve of the Nitish Kumar-K C Tyagi-NCP alliance because Nitish has surrendered to the BJP. And hence, there is no ground for me to vote for BJP.”
Vasava said he received no further calls from Praful Patel after polling was completed. Praful Patel was not available for comment despite repeated attempts by The Indian Express.
The NCP and JD(U) had announced a tie-up in April for the assembly elections. For the Rajya Sabha polls, Vasava had announced in advance that he would vote for Ahmed Patel. In the end, with the two NCP votes going in favour of the BJP, Vasava’s vote proved crucial in Patel reaching the winning mark of 44, with 43 Congress votes. Vasava is an MLA from Jhagadia, which is in Ahmed Patel’s home district of Bharuch.
Elaborating on his reasons for not supporting the BJP, Vasava said he was “ideologically against” the ruling party. “Had I voted for the BJP, it would have resulted in the defeat of Ahmed Patel. It would have converted the political atmosphere in favour of BJP, not only in Gujarat but also in the entire country. But I restricted the march of BJP by voting for the Congress,” said Vasava.
“The BJP’s political aircraft was flying continuously… I forced it to land in Gujarat. It was like (RJD leader) Lalu Prasad who stopped L K Advani’s Rath Yatra in Bihar in 1990,” he said.
“I have taken a vow to end the rule of BJP in the country, and it will begin from Gujarat. I am going to have an electoral alliance with the Congress in the assembly elections and I will campaign in the entire tribal belt to ensure the defeat of the BJP,” said Vasava.