Ahmedabad: Tension continue to simmer for Sonia Gandhi's strong hand Ahmed Patel as the top brass of BJP knocks the doors of the Election Commission after the Congress asked the poll panel to cancel votes of its two "disgruntled" MLAs for allegedly showing their votes to persons other than the authorised party representatives.
Third delegation of BJP went to the Election Commission demanding early counting of votes.
Union minister Piyush Goyal, who was part of the delegation, said they have come to counter Congress delegation which has also visited the EC thrice on Tuesday evening.
Goyal said, "It is a complete sham that Congress is indulging in, the allegations are completely baseless."
Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Congress cannot put undue pressure on EC. If Congress party goes to EC the third time, so will we."
Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, "We want electoral process to be completed and counting to begin."
Earlier, Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and others reached the office of the Election Commission (EC) and have asked the poll panel to start the counting at the earliest.
After meeting the EC officials, Piyush Goyal said, "The decision of presiding officers is final. If neither they (Congress) nor election observers object to it when votes were cast, then the votes cannot be questioned now."
Goyal added that, "the counting of votes should be done immediately and results declared".
Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress was reacting out of fear of losing the poll, in which its senior leader Ahmed Patel is locked in a tight fight with a Congress rebel fielded by the BJP.
The Congress earlier in the evening approached the EC demanding cancellation of votes of its two disgruntled MLAs for allegedly showing their votes to BJP party president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani instead of showing it to the authorised Congress agent.
Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and RPN Singh met the EC officials on Tuesday and demanded that votes of Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel be cancelled as per law since they violated the "secrecy of ballot".
The Congress also produced a video of the poll proceedings to the commission.
According to the rules, voters for the Rajya Sabha elections have to show their ballots to their respective party's authorised representative before exercising their franchise.
"The votes cast by these two MLAs are required to be cancelled for the reason of voting procedure violation," the party said in its memorandum to the Commission.
Surjewala said the two legislators, instead of showing their ballots to party's election agent, displayed it to BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani, which he said, "should not be accepted".
BJP party chief Amit Shah and colleague and Union minister Smriti Irani are through to the Rajya Sabha, but Congress’ senior leader Ahmed Patel was kept on tenterhooks till the very end for the third seat from the Gujarat Assembly.
The Congress’ chances were dimmed with cross-voting, infighting and resignations as Ahmed Patel struggled to be re-elected for the fifth time in what had snowballed into a prestige battle between the BJP and the Congress.
Each candidate needed 45 votes to go through. With 121 MLAs in the Assembly, the BJP's first choices were Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, leaving their third candidate Balwantsinh Rajput with 31 spare MLAs.
Until recently, Rajput was Congress' chief whip in the House before defecting to the BJP. He depended on rebels and smaller parties to make up for the deficit.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's political advisor Ahmed Patel had the clear support of 44 MLAs, discounting senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela.
"As Ahmed Patel is going to lose, I have not given my vote to him," Vaghela said after casting his vote.
But two other Congress leaders – Raghavji Patel and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja -- also voted for the BJP, it is learnt. This left Patel with 42 votes from his own party.
JD(U)’s Chhotubhai Vasava also voted for the BJP under instructions from the freshly-defected party chief Nitish Kumar, said JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi.
The lone JD(U) MLA, however, said he voted for Ahmed Patel as the “ruling BJP has done little for tribal people and the poor”.
Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party has two MLAs, one of whom – Kandhal Jadeja -- has said he will not vote for Ahmed Patel. It was not clear how the other NCP leader, Jayant Patel, voted.
The lone JD(U) MLA, Chhotubhai Vasava, said he voted for Ahmed Patel as the “ruling BJP has done little for tribal people and the poor”.
He said the decision to vote for the Congress nominee was solely his own and not necessarily that of the party which he represents. Party boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has recently defected to the NDA.
"Nitish Kumar did not contact me over voting, and there was nothing like a whip issued by the party in this regard. The decision to vote for Patel was my own," he said.
A fight for a seat is taking place for Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat after a gap of two decades....