BJP national president Amit Shah filed the nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat on Friday morning. Shah was accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and former chief minister Anandiben Patel in Gandhinagar. Union Minister Smriti Irani and former Congress leader Balwantsinh Rajput have also filed their nominations for the other two seats for which elections are scheduled to be held on August 8.
Rajput, an MLA from Sidhpur and Congress’s chief whip in the Gujarat Assembly, left Congress on Thursday for rge BJP along with Viramgam MLA Tejashree Patel and Vijapur MLA Prahlad Patel. Rajput is also Shankersinh Vaghela’s relative, the veteran Congress leader who took an exit from the Congress last week. Two more Congress MLAs — Mansingh Chouhan and Chhanabhai Chaudhary — also handed over their resignation to the Assembly Speaker on Friday, reducing the Congress’s tally to 52 in the 182-seat Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Congress has fielded Ahmed Patel for the Gujarat Rajya Sabha seat. On Thursday, AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot expressed confidence that Patel would win. “After ruling Gujarat for 20-plus years, if the BJP relies on the defection of a few Congress MLAs to stay in the fight for the 2017 polls, it says a lot about the party’s ‘development’ and ‘people friendly policies’,” Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatsinh Solanki said.
In the presidential election, eight Congress MLAs in Gujarat had voted in favour of NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind.