February 18, 2021 8:19:06 pm
The two BJP candidates for the Rajya Sabha by-elections in Gujarat — Dinesh Prajapati and Rambhai Mokaria — are expected to be declared winners after the Opposition Congress party did not field any candidates on the last day of filing nominations on Thursday.
There are a total 11 Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat. Once the two candidates are officially declared winners, BJP will increase their present tally from six to eight, while Congress will have three MPs — Dr Amee Yagnik, Naranbhai Rathwa and Shaktisinh Gohil. The sitting Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP are Narhari Amin, Ramilaben Bara, S Jaishankar, Jugalsinh Lokhandwala, Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala.
“Only four candidates filed their nominations for the separate elections to two Rajya Sabha seats. All of them are from the BJP,” said S Murali Krishna, Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat and the Observer for the two separate Rajya Sabha polls for equal number of seats. The polls were necessitated after sitting Congress MP Ahmed Patel and BJP MP Abhay Bhardwaj passed away last year due to post-Covid-19 related complications. In 2017, the late Patel won the seat by a whisker after the BJP fielded a turncoat Congress MLA as a candidate against him for the Rajya Sabha seat, where a contest was seen after a long time in Gujarat.
The two BJP candidates will be declared winners after their forms are scrutinised Friday and the party’s two dummy candidates pull back their nominations on or before February 22, which is the last date for withdrawal of candidatures.
Manish Doshi, spokesperson for the Congress party in Gujarat said that the party decided not to field candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat because the issue of holding separate elections has already been challenged by the party in the courts.
“Our fight is a principled one. We have already challenged the separate elections in court when Union Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar was elected to the Rajya Sabha from here. The matter is subjudice. We believe holding separate elections for two seats is wrong. Secondly, due to separate elections being held for the two seats, we do not have the required number of votes for individual seat. Keeping these two points in mind we have not filed our nominations,” said Doshi.
In the Rajya Sabha polls held in May 2019, Jaishankar had won from one of the two seats vacated by Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, after they won the Lok Sabha elections. BJP had won the seats in the polls conducted through separate voting. This was challenged by the Congress. Jugal Lokhandwala was the other candidate from the BJP who got elected.
The Rajya Sabha polls for the two vacant seats in Gujarat were scheduled to be held on March 1. If the polls were held as scheduled, BJP with 111 MLAs had enough numbers to help both their candidates secure the 91 votes needed for victory. Congress in comparison has only 65 MLAs.
Earlier on Thursday, both the BJP candidates filed their Rajya Sabha nominations in presence of State BJP president CR Paatil and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.
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