Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s hopes of securing a fifth Rajya Sabha term in Gujarat faced a setback Tuesday morning as former party leader Shankersinh Vaghela told The Indian Express that he voted against the Congress because the Congress was getting less than 40 votes in any case. “There was no point in voting for the Congress in that case”. He also indicated at cross voting from the 44 protected MLAs as well.
To secure the victory in Rajya Sabha poll, Patel needs to get at least 45 votes. Voting is currently underway and the results will be declared at 5 pm. Amid fears of defections within the party ranks since the sudden resignation of party’s top leader Vaghela and chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput, the party moved 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to protect them against ‘horse-trading’ by the BJP. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Patel had expressed confidence that he would win comfortably. But later he added: “If anyone cross-votes tomorrow, they will face action from party or even disqualification.”
Vaghela, last week, also said he and Patel are still “friends”, giving hopes to Congress that he might vote in their favour. On Monday Vaghela had told Indian Express, “I cannot disclose whom I will vote for. However if it is my one vote that Ahmedbhai needs to win, then my vote shall go to him.”
The party must now pin their hopes that all of its 44 members vote in favour of Patel, who is also Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary. On Monday, Patel had claimed he already has support from two NCP leaders. “The NCP has said that it will support Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat,” he said. Later, NCP leader Kandhal Jadeja spoke to reporters on Monday night and said that the party will vote in favour of BJP candidate Balvantsinh Rajput. “Our party has asked us to support BJP in tomorrow’s RS elections,” Jadeja said. After casting his vote on Tuesday, Jadeja told reporters that the party had made its stance clear on Monday. “We cleared things yesterday itself. You will know everything in the evening,” he said.