Once upon a time, Ahmed Patel was one of the most powerful persons in the country. That was when he used to influence policy decisions, decide ministries and allies, and manage the media.
Today, he is fighting to save his Rajya Sabha seat.
The rivalry between Amit Shah and Narendra Modi on one side and Patel on the other, dates back to the Hajuria-Khajuria days of the 1990s, when Patel helped Shankersinh Vaghela split the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and then brought down their government and formed the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP) government with the help of the Congress. Because of this fallout, Modi was sent to exile to Delhi in 1996 and not allowed to return until 2001.
Both Shah and Modi feel that it was Patel who pressed on cases related to alleged encounters and the 2002 Gujarat riots. That may be the reason that the two are going out of their way to defeat Patel.
Ironically, and allegedly, the same Vaghela is today helping the BJP split the Congress and defeat Patel.
Thus far, six Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of the Congress party have sent in their resignation. As per sources, over 15 MLAs were already willing to put down their papers, before they were abducted and sent back to Bengaluru, to a lavish resort. There is palpable anger against Congress MLAs that they have deserted their constituencies of North Gujarat, which is reeling from the worst floods in decades.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers.
Gujarat Vidhan Sabha – Current Scenario
- BJP – 121 MLAs, including Nalin Kotadia
- Congress – 51 MLAs (The original 57 MLAs; six have resigned)
- NCP: 2 (Not disclosed their cards)
- Janata Dal (United): 1 (Not disclosed their cards)
- Independent: 1 (Confirmed support to the BJP candidate)
- Vaghela camp: 7
- Shankarsinh Vaghela
- Mahendrasinh Vaghela
- Amit Chaudhary
- Raghavji Patel
- Dharmendrasinh Jadeja
- C K Raulji
- Bholabhai Gohil
The BJP has given a ticket to Balwantsinh Rajput (former chief whip of the Congress in Gujarat Vidhan Sabha), a close relative of Vaghela. This move was made to ensure seven votes of the Vaghela camp go to the BJP.
In the current situation, Balwantsinh Rajput needs 15 additional votes to defeat Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections. Yesterday (2 August) at the press conference, Bharatsinh Solanki (Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president) announced that they had the support of 44 MLAs (43 MLAs stationed in Karnataka and Shailesh Parmar stationed in Ahmedabad). Patel will win the Rajya Sabha elections if he gets 45 first-preference votes from 51 Congress MLAs and additional two votes from the NCP and JD(U).
On the other hand, if the Vaghela camp gives their seven votes to Balwantsinh Rajput, then he will have 37 first-preference votes; an additional two votes can be transferred to his tally (one first-preference vote each to Smriti Irani and Shah). Ninety-two Vidhan Sabha members who will vote for Irani and Shah as first preference will vote Balwantsinh Parmar for second-preference votes. Six second-preference votes are equivalent to one first-preference vote; so that will bring Balwantsinh Rajput’s tally to 54 votes, which will be a winning total for him.
- 37 votes (first-preference votes)
- Two votes (additional first preference vote each to Irani and Shah)
- 15 votes (second-preference votes)
Interestingly, the members also have the option of voting ‘None of the above’, which can destroy the Congress’ calculation.
This will be a keenly contested election. It will be interesting to see who emerges victorious in the final battle on 8 August. For now, Shah can claim to have won the battle.
Dhaval Patel is a project management consultant based out of Surat. He has an interest in Bollywood, the entertainment industry, politics and public policy.
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