Gujarat Rajya Sabha election highlights: Ahmed Patel wins after EC disqualifies two votes

Gujarat Rajya Sabha election highlights: Ahmed Patel poll 44 votes while Amit Shah and Smriti Irani got 46 votes each. Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput registered 38 votes.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 9, 2017 7:27:48 am
gujarat rajya sabha, rajya sabha election, gujarat RS polls, gujarat RS election, ahmed patel, amit shah, smriti irani, balwantsinh rajput Gujarat Rajya Sabha election highlights: The candidates are Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput from the BJP and Ahmed Patel from the Congress

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel will be back for his fifth term in the Rajya Sabha on a day that saw some late drama, with the Congress and BJP knocking at the Election Commission’s door.

The number of votes required for his reelection came down to 44 votes after the poll panel disqualified two votes cast by Congress legislators for violating the secrecy of the ballot. The Congress alleged that the two MLAs showed their ballot papers to Amit Shah and demanded the Returning Officer to declare their votes invalid.

Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls highlights updates:

2.45 am: That is all from us tonight. Thank you for tuning in.

2.30 am:

2.00 am: Amit Shah and Smriti Irani polled 46 votes each. Shah, who completes three years as BJP national president today, will enter the Parliament as a member for the first time. Irani will return for a second term.

1.52 am:

1.42 am: BREAKING Ahmed Patel retains Rajya Sabha seat after EC disqualifies two seats.

1.26 am:  ANI says the counting will begin shortly.

1.00 am: MORE DRAMA the NDTV is reporting that the counting of votes has now been stopped after the BJP lodged a complaint with the Returning Officer, claiming that two Congress MLAs violated voting norms.

12.30 am: We are still waiting for the results. They should be out in another 30 odd minutes.

12.02 am: Speaking to NDTV, Ahmed Patel said: “I appreciate this order. The quota is less, now need 44 votes.”

Patel said he is “confident” and “optimistic” of winning this election.

11.45 pm: With the two votes declared invalid, Ahmed Patel now needs just 44 votes to win. This is how the numbers stack up: 43 Congress MLAs + one NCP MLA + one JD(U) MLA= 45 votes in total for Patel.

11.40 pm: EC asks Returning Officer to start counting of votes after segregating the two votes in question.

11.30 pm: The votes of Congress MLAs Bhola Bhai Gohil and Raghav Bhai Patel were declared invalid after they were found to have violated the voting procedure and secrecy of the ballot papers cast by them.

11.26 pm: Big setback for the BJP, the Election Commission accepts Congress demand. Votes of two Cong MLAs declared invalid. Counting to begin soon. The poll panel took the decision after reviewing video footage from the polling centre.

11.10 pm: We have our first casualty in this tussle between the BJP and Congress, Gujarat JD(U) general secretary Arun Srivastava has been sacked from his post. Going against the party diktat, he earlier pledged support to Ahmed Patel.

11.05 pm: Well, the celebrations in the BJP camp have been put temporarily on hold for the moment.

10.52 pm: Amit Shah is camping outside the counting centre with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

10.30 pm: The Election Commission will convey its order on counting of votes to Returning Officer at 11.30 pm, according to new agency ANI.

10.00 pm: EC officials did not meet Congress and BJP delegations for the third time. They are now locked in a closed-door meeting. Decision expected soon.

9.30 pm: 

9.10 pm: For those of you just joining us post dinner, grab those tubs of ice cream and settle down as it appears this drama is not going to come to an end anytime soon. Here is a quick recap of Tuesday’s tumultuous evening.

# The morning began with former Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela voting against Ahmed Patel. He claimed Patel has no chance of reclaiming his Rajya Sabha seat.

# Then the 44 Congress MLAs who have been camping at a resort in Ahmedabad arrived together to vote. However, one of them reportedly cross-voted, throwing a spanner in the works of the Patel campaign.

# Post noon, it appeared Patel has just scrapped through with one of the two NCP MLAs and a lone JD(U) MLA voting in his favour. With votes from the 43 Congress MLAs + 1 NCP MLA + 1 JD(U) MLA, the total comes to 45, the magic number needed to win.

# Controversy erupts before counting of votes was set to begin at 5 pm. JD(U) MP and spokesperson, K C Tyagi contradicts his MLA and says he voted for the BJP.

# Meanwhile, the Congress complains to the Returning Officer that two of its MLAs allegedly showed their voter slips to BJP national president Amit Shah. They demanded him to disqualify the two votes saying they have video evidence to prove their claims. The counting of votes has now been delayed indefinitely with the EC studying the report submitted by the RO.

# The fight now moves to the Election Commission office in Delhi with delegations from Congress and BJP knocking on its doors.

8.42 pm: The doors at the offices of the EC in Delhi seem to resemble more like a carousel at every passing moment. Leaders from both camps have been stepping into the building in small groups and coming out to feed bytes to the waiting media scrum. The BJP delegation led by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has just addressed the press for the second time. We have full faith in the poll panel, he said.

8.22 pm: P Chidambaram said the Election Commission must follow the precedent it set during the Haryana Rajya Sabha polls. “The EC must follow its own precedent and reject these two ballot papers,” he said. He claimed the two Congress MLAs showed their ballot papers to “unauthorised” persons during voting.

8.00 pm: Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Anand Sharma cited the time EC rejected a Congress MLA vote during the Rajya Sabha elections in Haryana and said the same principle should be applied in Gujarat. “One of our MLAs had mistakenly showed his vote in Haryana and his vote was rejected, same was done in Gujarat so it should be rejected,” he told reporters outside the Election Commission.

7.45 pm: Meanwhile, Ahmed Patel expressed confidence that he would win and requested the EC to begin counting.

7.30 pm: The BJP delegation after meeting the Election Commission officials is now briefing the media.

“The Congress has been leveling baseless allegations…they did not say anything in the morning. When they realised that they are going to lose, they began making these allegations. Requested EC to reject Congress’s plea as once votes are cast then nothing can be done. Process was fair,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

“Since morning Congress has been claiming victory, now with defeat staring in their face they are making desperate attempts,” he added.

7.15 pm: The Congress is holding a press conference. It claims that the Election Commission is being put under pressure by the BJP. On the allegation that two of its MLAs showed their ballot papers to Amit Shah before casting their vote, Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said: “We had raised objection at 9.30 am, but EC has not responded till now, shows that they are being put under pressure.”

“We requested that Congress, BJP and presiding officer should jointly watch the video, but BJP objected, waiting for the EC decision,” he added.

7.10 pm: The counting process continues to be delayed as authorities await the EC decision on the Returning Officer’s report on Congress allegations.

Lights come on inside the secretariat building where the counting will take place.

7.05 pm: Meanwhile, a BJP delegation including Union Ministers MA Naqvi, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan are going to the Election Commission.

6.34 pm:  The Congress named Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel in its complaint to the EC for allegedly showing their ballot papers to “persons” other than the Congress polling agent.

6.23 pm: JD(U)’s Gujarat general secretary Arun Srivastava waded into the controversy surrounding its MLA and declared support to Ahmed Patel. “Who is KC Tyagi to say anything? Chotubhai has voted, he will tell. Our support is with Ahmed Patel,” he said.

After casting his vote, JD(U)’s lone MLA, Chhotu Vasava, told news agency PTI: “Nitish Kumar (Bihar chief minister and JD(U) president)
did not contact me over voting, and there was nothing like a whip issued by the party in this regard. The decision to vote for Patel was my own.”

This was, however, contradicted by JD(U) MP and spokesperson KC Tyagi, who claimed that Vasava voted for the BJP.

6.00 pm: The Congress met the Returning Officer and demanded the Election Commission to invalidate two votes polled by its MLAs. They alleged that they voted for the BJP and showed their slips to national president Amit Shah. The EC will verify the video recording purportedly showing the MLAs flouting rules.

5.40 pm: Contradicting the Congress’ claim that a JD(U) MLA has voted for Ahmed Patel, the party’s MP and spokesperson K C Tyagi told news agency ANI that its MLA followed Nitish Kumar’s diktat and voted for the BJP. “Nitish ji had asked our Gujarat MLA Chhotubhai Vasava to vote for BJP and he voted BJP,” he said.

5.36 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani arrives at the counting centre.

It appears the mood at the BJP office in Gandhinagar is quite upbeat ahead of the announcement of results. (Source: Express photo)

5.28 pm: It appears we are having a bit of a trouble to get the counting started. The delay is being attributed to Congress’ complaint to the returning officer about cross-voting. A report was prepared and sent to the Election Commission. We are now waiting for a go ahead.

Earlier, Congress leader Ashok Gehlot accepted that one of the 44 Congress MLAs who were recently camping in Bengaluru had cross-voted.

5.00 pm: Well, with counting set to begin, BJP national president Amit Shah, who is contesting in this election, arrives at the polling centre.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Shaktisinh Gohil claimed that there is video evidence of two Congress MLAs showing their votes to Amit Shah. “Two Congress MLAs who voted for BJP showed their votes to Amit Shahji, it has been video-graphed. If a voter shows his vote to anyone other than party’s authorized agent, then the vote gets rejected. We will ask for official copy, if the video has been tampered then its a serious a criminal act, we will go to SC for that,” he told news agency ANI.

4.30 pm: “Ahmed Patel will win more than 45 votes; A JDU and NCP MLAs have publicly said they have voted for us,” says Arjun Modhvadia.

2:45 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had reached Parliament early morning to cast his vote. Speaking to the voters, he had said he has voted for the whip issued by the party.

2:40 pm: I have voted in the interest of Patidar community: Dhari MLA Nalin Kotadiya after voting for Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections.

2:30 pm: BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani outside Gujarat Assembly House.

BJP President Amit Shah. Express Photo by Javed Raja Union Minister Smriti Irani. Express Photo by Javed Raja

2:25 pm: Speaking to news reporters, Congress Gujarat chief Ashok Gehlot said that the victory is certain for Ahmed Patel.

2:15 pm: State election officer tells ANI that 176 MLAs have cast their votes in the RS elections.

2:00 pm: Voting for Gujarat Rajya Sabha election has ended. The counting of votes will start at 5 pm.

1:52 pm: Speaking to reporters, Ahmed Patel said that one Congress leader cross-voting will not affect the outcome of the result and he will secure a victory. He added that he had spoken to JD(U) leaders who confirmed that they voted for him. He also said that of three Lok Sabha and five Rajya Sabha elections he has fought till now, this has been the toughest one.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel outside Gujarat Assembly. Express Photo by Javed Raja

1:50 pm: In a straw poll that we posted earlier in the live blog, we received over 2000 votes. Over 70 per cent voters believed that Ahmed Patel will not be re-elected in the state after the polls. Around 22 per cent people believe that he will get re-elected, while around 6 per cent people are still undecided.

1:30 pm: ANI is reporting that the MLAs are now having lunch at Uma Bhavan after they collectively went in to vote at the state Assembly.

1:15 pm: Congress MLA Dharshi Khanpura had to vote himself after his request for a proxy vote was rejected. He was saying that he could not write.

1:00 pm: So, Congress sources have told the Indian Express that Ahmed Patel has got through with 43 Congress votes + 1 NCP +1 JDU = 45 votes. Unless, any MLA from those who stayed in Bengaluru has cross-voted, Patel is safe for the moment. Of course, these are not the actual results. We will know them when they come out, sometime after 4 pm.

12:30 pm: Former Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel said the party has been working hard ever since the dates of the RS elections were announced. She expressed confidence that the BJP will win all three seats.

12:15 pm: So, 61 BJP MLAs and 43 Congress MLAs have now voted so far in the Rajya Sabha election. We still don’t have any clarity on how things stand.

12 noon: Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia alleged that some of BJP’s MLAs have cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha election.

11:55 am: The 44 Congress MLAs, who came in a batch, have voted and have left the Assembly in the same bus they came in. (Express photo by Javed Raja)

44 Gujarat Congress MLAs leaving after casting their votes (Express photo by Javed Raja)

11:40 am: Here’s what the JD(U) MLA told the Indian Express:

Lone JD(U) MLA Chhotu Vasava from Jhagadiya constituency in Bharuch district, home to Ahmed Patel, told The Indian Express, “I voted for the safety of the country. I kept in mind issues like demonetisation, GST along with safety and security of Tribals, Dalits, Muslims and SC/ST people in the country. The middle class and poor faced lot of difficulty post demonetisation as they faced great problems. Even after the GST, the poor, middle-class people are suffering a lot.”

Vasava who has earlier announced that his vote was for Ahmed Patel, said Tuesday, “I think there is a need for the present government to change. I voted for a person, whose party ideology is for Dalit, tribals, Muslims, SC/ST and poor. The farmers are unhappy, they are agitating. The tribals are suffering from sickle cell anaemia and no satisfactory steps are been taken by the government.”

11:35 am: Congress MLA Gayasuddin Sheikh has meanwhile claimed that Patel will win, Satish Jha reports.

11:30 am: We will give you an update on the earlier straw poll that we had put out. We got nearly 1,300 votes on it, out of which more than 950 people think Patel will not get re-elected to Rajya Sabha. That’s nearly 75% who think that. We will wait for more votes to come in.

11:10 am: Just FYI, the polling for the three Rajya Sabha seats will go on until 4 pm in the evening after which the results are likely to come out.

10:50 am: A senior Congress leader Kunvarji Bavaliya claims Congress MLA from Jasdan, Bhola Gohil voted for the BJP, terms him ‘gaddar(traitor), reports Gopal Kateshiya. He had reportedly kept aside the seat for Gohil in 2012 elections for him to win.

10:30 am: If everyone votes according to what they say, then we would have a really simple election on our hands. We are now hearing that one NCP MLA travelled with the Congress camp but ultimately voted for the BJP. No confirmation though!

10:10 am: Okay, too many things happening at the same time!

The Congress contingent of 44 MLAs who were housed in a resort on the outskirts of Anand have reached the state Assembly for the vote.

Meanwhile, Shankarsinh Vaghela’s son Mahendrasinh has also voted but he declines to reveal how he voted. If he votes his father’s way, then Patel will lose another crucial vote.

Also, Chief Minister and BJP leader Vijay Rupani says he has voted again to the whip issued by the party. He adds that the NCP MLAs will vote for the BJP too. But Jayant Patel of the NCP says he has voted according to the high command ie for Patel.

9:50 am: So who are the five Congress MLAs apart from Raghavji Patel who may not vote for Patel?

CK Raulji (Godhra), Mahendrasinh Vaghela (Bayad), Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (Jamnagar north), Bholabhai Gohil (Jasdan) and Amit Chaudhary (Mansa) were not part of the Congress contingent of 44 MLAs who went to Bengaluru.

9:45 am: More MLAs are now coming out of the state Assembly telling reporters how they voted. Not sure if this is violative of the secret ballot.

Dharmendra Jadeja of the Congress says he voted for Rajput of the BJP. ”Congress hadn’t been listening to us for a year,” he told ANI. Another MLA, Raghavji Patel, says he has voted for the BJP candidate too. He says he wants to remain in politics, just not in the Congress. So that’s two down for the Congress. If you include Vaghela, that’s three MLAs voting for the BJP candidate.


9:35 am: Vaghela does not vote for Patel

A setback for the Congress as Shankarsinh Vaghela comes out and tells reporters that he did NOT vote for Ahmed Patel. “Jab Congress jeetne waali hai hi nahi, vote bina matlab Congress ko dene ka matlab nahi tha. Humne Ahmed Patel ko vote nahi diya (When Congress was not going to win, what’s the use of voting for the party. I have not voted for Ahmed Patel),” Vaghela said.

So, does this mean that some of the MLAs loyal to Vaghela will vote the same fashion?

9:18 am: Interestingly, the contest is so tight and nerve-wracking that some on Twitter are even comparing it to the epic HBO series Game of Thrones. There’s even a hashtag #GujaratGoT going around.

9:15 am: Vaghela, Amit Shah, Irani, Gujarat CM Rupani, Ahmed Patel are all there at the Assembly.

9:10 am: So, NDTV is reporting that out of the two NCP MLAs, one is likely to vote for the BJP candidate and the other for Congress. It quotes Sharad Pawar saying that he has asked senior party leader Praful Patel to go to Gujarat and ensure that its MLA votes for Patel as the other legislator has turned rebel.

9:05 am: And we are hearing that the voting has begun in the Assembly in Gandhinagar.

8:30 am: Welcome everyone to this live blog where we are going to track all the updates from the decisive cliffhanger Rajya Sabha elections in the state of Gujarat. Stay with us as we bring you all the numbers and how each candidate could end up getting elected to the Upper House!

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