Ahmedabad: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was on Tuesday re-nominated as the party's candidate for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat and he would file his nomination papers on Wednesday.
Gujarat Congress unit chief Bharatsinh Solanki gave this information in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
Patel's first-term in the Rajya Sabha had begun in 1993 and if re-elected, the 67-year-old leader would become a member of the Upper House of Parliament for the fifth time.
Meanwhile, in a meeting of Congress MLAs held in the state party headquarters in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, Mohansinh Rathwa was elected as the in-charge Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, till a new leader is appointed.
The new LoP had to be appointed as veteran leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was the LoP in the state Assembly, quit the party on 21 July.
The election to the Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat will be held on 8 August. The last date for filing of nominations for 10 Rajya Sabha vacancies from Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh is 28 July. The process of nominations began on 21 July.
Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will file his nomination papers in Gandhinagar tomorrow, party sources said.
Vaghela had announced his decision to bid goodbye to the Congress on his 77th birthday. However, while announcing the decision, he had said that he would resign as an MLA only after the RS poll, which was seen as a veiled warning that he would try to ensure the defeat of the Congress candidate.
According to sources, at the meeting of Congress MLAs held in the state party headquarters on Tuesday, out of the 57 MLAs of the party, including Vaghela (who is yet to resign as an MLA), five were absent.
"During the meeting, Mohansinh Rathwa was elected as the in-charge Leader of Opposition, till a new leader is appointed," state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.
"A whip was issued to each MLA to vote for the party's official candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections," he added.
Of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from the state, the term of three — Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Congress' Ahmed Patel — is coming to an end on 18 August.
The Congress has 57 MLAs in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly. It needs the support of 47 of them to get its candidate through. The main opposition party also has the support of two NCP legislators and one of the JD(U).
Despite Vaghela's exit from the party, the Congress is confident of Patel's victory.
Solanki said that they would not face any problem in the re-election of Ahmed Patel, as any "indiscipline" by MLAs in the Rajya Sabha polls would invite disqualification for six years.
The meeting took place at a time when the Congress is going through a turmoil after Vaghela's exit from the party.
State Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot said Vaghela seems to have quit the Congress due to some pressure or as he was being blackmailed by our opponents.
"Vaghela had demanded that he should be made a chief ministerial candidate. His second demand was that the state Congress chief should be changed.
"He also wanted that he should be given free hand in the distribution of tickets. These demands were not possible to meet," Gehlot said.
Updated Date: Jul 26, 2017 09:42:21 IST