The Rajya Sabha polls for three seats in Gujarat will begin at 9 am on Tuesday and continue till 4 pm. The counting of votes will start at 5 pm and the results are expected to be out by 6 pm.
Gujarat looks set for an on the edge of seat contest as Ahmed Patel, the influential political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will look to secure his fifth consecutive Rajya Sabha victory. However, Patel will not get a walkover this time around as he will be facing Balwantsinh Rajput, a former Congress leader, who switched to the BJP.
Patel's trouble grew after the Congress, which has been out of power in the state for over a two decades now, was rattled by the surprise exit of party stalwart Shankarsinha Vaghela recently.
The party was jolted further when its six MLAs, including Rajput, a relative of Vaghela resigned from the Assembly. Three of them later joined BJP, setting off alarm bells in the party in Gujarat where Assembly elections are due later this year. The beleaguered Congress flew its 44 MLAs to Bengaluru to ward off any threat of "poaching" by the BJP.
However, six of the 51 MLAs still in the Congress, apart from Vaghela, have not put their cards on the table. They were not among the MLAs packed off to Bengaluru.
Vaghela, who resigned from the party and as the leader of the opposition, has not quit the House yet, giving the Congress a major cause for worry.
BJP chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani are the other two candidates who are expected to win easily.
According to Election Commission officials, a candidate would require one-fourth of the total number of votes plus one to get elected. This would mean a contestant has to muster 45 votes.
BJP has 121 MLAs in the 182-seat Assembly.
BJP will be left with 31 surplus votes for Rajput, who will require the backing of rebel MLAs of the Congress and smaller parties to win. Rajput also has the support of two NCP MLAs, which will make his task a bit easier.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Aug 08, 2017 09:04 AM