Shankersinh Vaghela becomes kingmaker in crucial Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat

Amit Shah

Amit Shah quits Assembly sees Guj polls in December

Results will be out soon. His decision to not resign was seen as a move to block Patel's entry into the upper house which has somewhat become a matter a prestige for the grand old party and even Patel.

From the BJP, party's national president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and former Congress MLA turned-BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput are in the race while political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, is the Congress candidate seeking a fifth term. The elections are significant due to the high-profile candidates involved - BJP president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel.

For the first time since 1996, Gujarat's Rajya Sabha seats are facing a contest with four candidates contesting for three seats, two of which are held by Bharatiya Janata Party. However, Ahmed Patel has got one vote each from both NCP and JD (U). "There is no chance of a Congress victory". "Even legislators now with Congress will not vote for him", said the 77-year-old veteran. He is, however, said to have toed his father's lead and voted for BJP's Rajput. A jittery Congress shipped 44 of their MLAs from Gujarat to a resort in Bangalore to prevent any further defections.

"I thank all MLAs & leadership of the party. Thus, I have not given my vote to Ahmed Patel", he said.

A fortnight ago, Congress veteran Shankersinh Vaghela claimed that he was booted out of the party.

"There is no question of any offer", he said and added that BJP leaders were not in touch with him. From the Congress point of view, fear of cross-voting looms large. Ahmed Patel is the political advisor to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and if he loses, it will create a huge embarrassment for the party. He is the only one from the resort team who cross voted. However, Congress is confident of Patel's win and senior party leader Arjun Modhwadia told Catch that they have the requisite numbers to ensure Patel's victory.

"There are only two parties in Gujarat - Congress and BJP".

According to reports, they were taken to the Neejanand Resort in Gujarat's Anand district, located 77 km from Ahmedabad, ahead of the election for three seats.

Counting began at 5 pm.

A candidate in the current polls needs to garner 45 votes for a straight win.

The stay of the of lawmakers was also marked by Income Tax raids on wealthy Karnataka Minister D Shivakumar, who had been tasked with arranging lodging for them.

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