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The voting for the presidential election concluded at the state secretariat here today with 180 out of total 182 members of the Gujarat Assembly having exercised their franchise. BJP president Amit Shah, who represents Naranpura seat of Ahmedabad, cast his vote in Delhi, while the lone JD(U) MLA, Chhotu Vasava, refrained from voting as a mark of protest. In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the ruling BJP has 122 MLAs, while the Congress has 57, the NCP has two and the JD(U) one. In the Lok Sabha, all 26 MPs from the state belong to the BJP. Out of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, two belong to the Congress while nine are from the BJP. As the Assembly complex is undergoing renovation, the voting was conducted at the adjoining Swarnim Sankul-2 complex inside the secretariat here. Only MLAs cast their votes here while all the MPs exercised their franchise in Delhi, Gujarat BJP's chief whip Pankaj Desai said. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, former CM Anandiben Patel, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela, were among those who cast their votes here. State Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot, who is the sitting MLA from Rajasthan and currently on a visit to Gujarat, cast his vote here. The NDA's candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, was here on Saturday to seek support of the BJP MLAs and MPs while the UPA's nominee, Meira Kumar, visited the state last month to launch her campaign from the iconic Sabarmati Ashram. Rebel BJP MLA Nalin Kotadia, who was expelled from the party recently, announced that he has not voted for Kovind to register his protest against the "atrocities" committed on the Patel community during the 2015 quota agitation. "I will not tell you whom I voted for, but I want to say that I have not given my vote to Kovind. I voted against the BJP to register my protest against the atrocities committed by police on the Patidars in 2015," he told reporters. The lone JD(U) MLA, Chhotu Vasava, a tribal leader of Bharuch district, did not turn up here to cast his vote.
He represents the Jhaghadia seat of Bharuch. "I am not taking part in this process to register my protest. Though the president is supposed to protect the rights conferred to tribals by the Constitution, all the past presidents have failed to do so. Thus, there is no meaning of becoming part of such a process," he told PTI over phone. Upon the completion of the voting at Swarnim Sankul, Rupani exuded confidence that Kovind will become the next president with a thumping majority. He also slammed the Congress for fielding Meira Kumar, and claimed that the party fielded a Dalit when the defeat is imminent. "As the voting is over, it is now very clear that Kovindji is all set to become the next president," Rupani said. "The Congress fielded Kumar, a Dalit, only after we announced Kovindji's name. Why the Congress did not think of her when they made Pratibha Patil or Pranab Mukherjee the president?" he asked.