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Guj RS poll counting delayed; Cong, BJP rush to EC 3 times

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

High drama was enacted at the Commission tonight over the delay in start of counting for the elections after approached the poll panel demanding cancellation of votes of its two MLAs for showing the ballots to chief

Three delegations each of the and made a dash for 'Nirvachan Sadan' within a span of two hours, with the former demanding that the votes of its MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel be declared invalid, and the latter insisting that counting be taken up "immediately".

was the first to move the Commission demanding cancellation of votes of its two disgruntled MLAs for allegedly showing their votes to persons other than the authorised party representatives.

leaders Randeep Surjewala and RPN Singh also produced a video of the poll proceedings to the commission and demanded that votes of Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel be cancelled as per since they violated the "secrecy of ballot".

According to the rules, voters for the elections have to show their ballots to authorised representative of their respective parties before casting them.

Terming Congress' objections as "baseless", a delegation of leaders, including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal, approached the EC demanding immediate counting of votes, contending that validity of votes once put in ballot boxes cannot be questioned.

Goyal told reporters after meeting EC officials that the decision of presiding officers is final.

If neither they nor observers objected to it when votes were cast, then their validity cannot be questioned now, he said, and demanded that "the counting of votes be done immediately and results declared".

Prasad said the was acting out of fear of losing the poll, in which its senior leader Ahmed Patel is locked in a tight fight with a rebel fielded by the

Immediately, after the visit of the high-profile team, heavyweight P Chidambaram led another delegation to the EC.

After the meeting, Chidambarm told reporters,"If the is so confident of winning the then it must abide by the And the is very clear. If the ballot is seen by a person other than the authorised person then it is liable to be rejected. was beneficiary of this on June 11, 2016. How was changed in one year. These two ballot papers must be rejected."

He was apparently referring to the in Haryana in which BJP-backed independent candidate Subhash Chandra had defeated Congress-supported candidate R K Anand after votes of several MLAs were declared invalid.

Objecting to Congress' contention, leaders also paid a second visit to the commission and insisted on their demand for immediate counting of the votes.

is over and the situation of confusion should end, Prasad said, adding that is "crumbling" and its people are leaving the party.

"The votes cast by these two MLAs are required to be cancelled for the reason of voting procedure violation," said in its memorandum to the Commission.

Surjewala alleged that the two legislators, instead of showing their ballots to party's agent, displayed it to president and Union Minister Smriti Irani, which he said, "should not be accepted".

The has nominated Shah and Irani for two seats from the state and they would sail through. chief Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel is pitted against the saffron party's Balwantsinh Rajput for the third seat.

It has become a high-stakes battle for Congress, thanks to infighting and resignations, with the fancying its prospects to win the third seat also, defeating Patel, who is seeking a fifth RS term.

The Congress, alleging that its MLAs were being poached by the BJP, had packed off 44 of them to a Bengaluru resort to keep their flock together.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, August 08 2017. 22:13 IST