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Voting underway in Guj for high-stakes Rajya Sabha elections

Press Trust of India  |  Gandhinagar 

Voting is underway in today for the elections in which Ahmed Patel, the influential political secretary to chief Sonia Gandhi, and BJP's Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput are in fray. As voting began for three RS seats, Patel expressed confidence that he will win. However, former stalwart Shankersinh Vaghela, after casting his vote, told reporters, "As Ahmed Patel is going to lose, I have not given my vote to him." The elections have turned into a high-stake battle for the in the backdrop of turbulence in the party following the surprise exit of Vaghela and the resignation of six of its MLAs recently. president Amit Shah, who is also an from Gujarat, also came to cast his vote. Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh Vaghela was seen touching the feet of Shah when he went inside. Earlier, a bus carrying 44 MLAs reached the Swarnim Sankul in the state secretariat here from a resort in Anand this morning. The MLAs flashed victory signs while going inside the voting centre. The is also banking on the support of two NCP MLAs, and one each of the JD(U) and the Parivartan Party (GPP). The NCP MLAs - Kandhal Jadeja and Jayant Patel - came to vote in the early hours, but did not reveal their preference. "You will come to know whom I voted for after voting is completed," Jadeja said. Jadeja told reporters yesterday that he and Jayant Patel have been asked to cast their first preference votes in favour of Rajput. JD(U) leader Chotubhai Vasava also did not reveal whom he voted for. "I have cast my vote in national interest," Vasava told reporters. Patel requires 45 votes to sail through his fifth RS election. The has a clear support of 44 MLAs. Some MLAs of his group like Raghavji Patel and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja also came out and said that they have voted for the A candidate will require 45 votes for a straight win in the poll, and the with 121 MLAs can secure easy victories for chief Shah and Union minister Irani.

The party will be left with 31 surplus votes for Rajput, who will require the backing of rebel MLAs of the and smaller parties to win. Rajput till recently was Congress' chief whip in the House. It is after a gap of about two decades that a contest is happening in polls in Gujarat, where official nominees of major parties used to get elected unopposed, after the fielded a rebel against Patel, who is seeking a fifth term. 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. The MLAs have to give their preferential votes indicating first choice, second, third, fourth (as per number of candidates) or they can choose NOTA, they said. The Congress, which has been out of power in the state for over a decade-and-a-half now, was rattled by the surprise exit of party stalwart Vaghela recently. It was jolted further when its six MLAs resigned from the Assembly. Three of them later joined BJP, setting off alarm bells in the party in where Assembly elections are due later this year. The beleaguered then flew its 44 MLAs to Bengaluru to ward off any threat of "poaching" by the

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

First Published: Tue, August 08 2017. 11:42 IST