EC becomes battleground for Congress, BJP

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The Congress had received positive feelers from NCP chief Sharad Pawar and one MLA each from JD (U) and Gujarat Parivartan Party but NCP leader Praful Patel on Sunday maintained that the party is yet to take a final call. Ahmed Patel has the support of 44 Congres MLAs and is hoping to get the support of 2 NCP MLAs, though their support is still in a dicey situation.

However, one NCP MLA, Kandhal Jadeja, touched the feet of BJP chief Amit Shah when he arrived to vote and exercised his franchise for the BJP before he left for Vaghela's residence "for a luncheon meeting".

Recently, 44 Congress MLAs were shifted to Bengaluru amid accusations that the saffron party is "intimidating and torturing" Congress MLAs and their families.

The Congress has 51 legislators in the Gujarat assembly, including Vaghela, who remains a legislator after quitting Congress. We believe the seven MLAs who didn't go to Bengaluru will also vote for him. On the other hand, the BJP has 122 MLAs and both Shah and Irani are expected to win hands down.

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The aggressive poaching of Congress MLAs by BJP had raised a question mark over Congress President Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel's re-entry into the Rajya Sabha for a fifth consecutive term.

"Not all 44 have voted for him, just wait and watch", a leader close to Vaghela said. There are other MLAs who can vote.

"Ahmed Patel and state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki will come to Anand to meet them", he said adding they have not taken police security at the resort.

Patel, Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, needs 45 votes to win.

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Prasad said the Congress had no objection in the morning and did not ask for keeping aside the two impugned votes or asked them to be declared as tendered. "They will stay together and will go to vote to Gandhinagar on Tuesday".

Two rebel Congress MLAs, Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, displayed their ballot paper before the BJP agent as well as the Congress counterpart, which was challenged by senior Congress leaders.

As per the current strength of the Gujarat Assembly each candidate requires a minimum of 45 votes to win. They will head straight to the State capital on Tuesday to cast their votes for the Rajya Sabha election.

In an attempt to prevent cross-voting, Congress has issued a whip to its MLAs saying that cross-voting would result in disqualification from the party for six years. There are NCP and JD (U) too. With four candidates filing their nominations for the three RS seats from the State, there will be a contest for the RS polls in the State for the first time in over two decades.

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