Giving some anxious moments to the the Congress on the eve of Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja today claimed the party high command has decided to support BJP candidate Balvantsinh Rajput. MP Supriya Sule, daughter of the party founder Sharad Pawar, however, said that NCP MLAs in Gujarat would back the Congress. The NCP has two MLAs in Gujarat -- Kandhal Jadeja and Jayant Patel, its state unit president. Jadeja told reporters in Gandhinagar that the party has asked both of them to give their first preference votes to Rajput. "As per our party's directive, we have to give our vote to BJP's Balvantsinh Rajput.
He will be our first preference," said Kandhal, who has openly admitted in the past that he was very close to senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who recently quit the Congress. "I just received a phone call from my party leaders who asked me to vote for Rajput," said Jadeja. Jayant Patel and NCP's in-charge for Gujarat, Praful Patel, were not available for comments. Asked to comment on reports that the party MLAs have been asked to vote for BJP, Sule said, "To the best of my knowledge it's Congress (that NCP MLAs would vote for)." Yesterday, Praful Patel had said his party, which shared power with the Congress at the Centre during the UPA regime and also had a pre-poll alliance with it in Gujarat in 2012 Assembly elections, had not taken any decision. However, referring to some unconfirmed reports, Congress' candidate Ahmed Patel today claimed that NCP had taken the decision to vote for him. The election to three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat has turned into a high-stake battle. BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani are in the fray; the ruling party has also fielded Rajput, a former Congress MLA, as a third candidate. Going by its strength in the assembly, the BJP is certain to win two seats but would require additional votes to ensure the victory of the third candidate. The Congress was recently jolted by Vaghela's exit, cross-voting in presidential election and resignation of half a dozen party MLAs. A confident Ahmed Patel, after meeting the Congress MLAs who have returned from Bengaluru, had said he has the support of more MLAs than required for the win. "Apart from these 44 (Congress) legislators, two of NCP, one of JD-U would give their vote for me," he had said. Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, needs 45 votes to win.
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