After bitter fight to the finish, it was Congress leader Ahmed Patel who returned to his post at the Rajya Sabha to carry on his fifth term, as the Gujarat elections drama finally came to an end. Taking the win from right below the noses of BJP chief Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani, the Congress leader came out on top in what had quickly become an ugly issue.
In a very embarrassing outcome for the BJP, the election commission of India declared that two votes violated election rules. The ballot papers of two Congress officials were declared invalid by the EC, on the grounds that they showed them to the BJPs election agent. This ensured a win for Ahmet Patel, who needed 44 votes to win, and did in fact receive exactly 44, winning by a hairs width.
At least six union ministers made repeated visits to the election commission, disputing the decision which prevented BJP from electing in their third candidate – Balwantsinh Rajput. The EC had just passed an order which reduced the strength of the Rajya Sabha to 174, which in turn brought down the target number of votes to 44 from 45.
This caused a delay of more than six hours in the counting process, following a petition by Congress workers who demanded that the votes of the two rebel legislators be nullified. The counting started at around midnight, but was help up as both sides fought for their reputation – several senior BJP union ministers approached the Election Commission multiple times, attempting to counter the Congress claims to disqualify the voters. Both sides sent multiple teams to their Delhi office.
The counting took from midnight to 2 am, after which the results were declared.
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Prior to the election, flames had already been lit as senior Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela turned against the leadership of his party, causing him and five other veteran legislators to resign from their respective posts, citing being sidelined as a cause. This reduced the party strength from 57 to 51. Three out of them later defaulted to the BJP, Balwantsinh Rajput narrowly losing to Ahmed Patel. Shankersinh Vaghela fired even more shots at the Congress, prematurely declaring Patels defeat barely an hour after the voting had begun. He had stipulated that Patel would “not even win 40 votes”, simultaneously remarking that he had already voted against the congressman.
On the bright side for BJP, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani made a sweeping victory in their respective elections.
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