BJP to move court against EC’s Gujarat Rajya Sabha election ruling
Ahmedabad: The saga of the third Gujarat Rajya Sabha seat isn’t over yet—the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has started the process of challenging the Election Commission’s (EC) invalidation of the votes of two rebel Congress MLAs, a decision that was key to Congress candidate Ahmed Patel’s win.
The BJP has started the process of initiating legal action against the EC’s decision, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said over phone on Thursday.
Meanwhile, seven of the eight rebel MLAs expelled by the Congress party on Wednesday are likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), one of the eight men, former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, said. However, he himself had not decided his plans so far, he said.
“The Election Commission’s decision of invalidating two votes will be challenged in Supreme Court by Rajput. It is the returning officer’s (RO) job to decide if a vote is valid or invalid and EC has no role to play in it. Also the Congress leader who was a polling agent in this election tried to snatch one candidate’s vote and even got up from his seat, thereby violating rules. All this will be challenged in the court of law,” said Vaghela, who is related to Rajput.
“My vote was reserved for Patel but then some of the leaders from Delhi started making personal and baseless allegations against me. I asked them to take their words back and since they did not do so, I voted for BJP,” Vaghela told a media gathering on Thursday morning at his residence in Gandhinagar.
The elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat were held on Tuesday. Two uncontested seats were won by BJP president Amit Shah and central minister Smriti Irani.
The third was a contest between Ahmed Patel, who is Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, and BJP’s high-profile candidate Balvantsinh Rajput (a defector from the Congress). Patel secured 44 votes to retain his RS seat, after the EC invalidated the votes of two rebel Congress MLAs ahead of counting.
In June, Vaghela quit as leader of opposition in the state assembly and said that he would leave the Congress in August after the RS elections. Following his exit, six MLAs, including Rajput, quit the Congress and joined the BJP ahead of the RS elections.
Shankersing’s son Mahendrasinh Vaghela, who was also expelled from the Congress after he voted for the BJP, said that the seven rebel MLAs had a meeting recently with senior BJP leaders, including chief minister Vijay Rupani and state party president Jitu Vaghani.
“We have all decided to join the BJP,” he said on the sidelines of the press conference on Thursday.
Mint could not independently verify the claim with all the MLAs.
“We welcome all leaders, including these seven MLAs, who want to join us and who believe in our party’ ideology,” said Jitu Vaghani, party president of Gujarat BJP.
Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said the BJP was now resorting to such tactics as challenging the EC decision “merely to stay in the news”.
“Congress has already expelled the eight MLAs who cross-voted. Further, we have initiated the process to take legal action to ensure that these MLAs cannot contest elections from any party for the next six years,” said Doshi.
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