BJP, Congress gear up for Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections
Gandhinagar: After the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat last August that turned into a prestige battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, another fight is on the cards for the upper house elections scheduled for 23 March.
The previous Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat was the first in two decades that witnessed voting. And this time too it seems to be headed the same way.
On Monday, the last day for filing nominations for the elections where four seats are up for grabs, the ruling BJP fielded three candidates including two ministers in the central government and a sitting Rajya Sabha member. Mansukh Mandavia, minister of state for road transport and highways, and shipping, chemicals and fertilizers; and Parshottam Rupala, minister of state for panchayati raj, agriculture and farmers welfare filed their nominations for the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The third candidate is Kiritsinh Rana, a former Gujarat minister. Former home minister Rajni Patel has also filed his nomination as a back-up candidate for BJP.
Congress also seems to be leaving nothing to chance after it faced one of the toughest Rajya Sabha elections in August last year when senior leader Ahmed Patel won by a narrow margin. The party has now fielded two candidates and backed one independent candidate. Former Union minister in the previous Congress-led UPA government Naran Rathwa and senior leader of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) Amee Yagnik have filed nominations as Congress party candidates. Independent candidate P.K. Valera has filed his papers with support from Congress MLAs.
Rajya Sabha nominations need the support of 10 MLAs.
“There is infighting in the Congress and they are confused about their candidates. Naran Rathwa would not pass the scrutiny of election commission as he did not have adequate papers. This would help us win the third seat as well,” said deputy chief minister Nitin Patel.
Rathwa said that there was some confusion about his voter’s certificate but the issue had been resolved.
“Congress has fielded two candidates for Gujarat and are supporting an independent candidate who is wishing to fight against the BJP. We are hopeful of winning all three sears,” said Congress leader Paresh Dhanani, who is the leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
For a candidate to win, 37 first preference votes are required. In the House of 182 legislators, BJP has a strength of 99 against the Congress party’s 77. Going by this statistic, if MLAs of both the parties vote as per their party whip, both Congress and BJP are poised to win two seats each.
The last date for withdrawal of candidature is 15 March.