Rajya Sabha polls: Winners, losers and everything in between

Virendra Pandit Rutam Vora Gandhinagar | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 09, 2017

Crucial victory Congress supporters celebrating party leader Ahmed Patel’s win in the Rajya Sabha elections, in Gandhinagar on Wednesday   -  PTI

Amit Shah and Ahmed Patel won, but their parties did suffer setbacks

Congress veteran Ahmed Patel has managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and retain his Rajya Sabha seat a fifth time.

Yet, post-midnight celebrations notwithstanding, his win may be pyrrhic with a severe depletion of his party’s strength in Gujarat, what with the impending Assembly polls and the BJP bracing to legally challenge his electoral win.

“It was a very difficult election but has come as a morale booster for us. There is no factionalism now in the Congress,” Patel told reporters on Wednesday.

The nail-biting finale, which stretched from Tuesday 9 am to Wednesday 2 am, had party members running from one crisis to another on an hourly basis.

There were twists and turns, wheels within wheels, confirmation and retraction of votes cast, and belligerent marches to the Election Commission. Ultimately, what clinched the win for Patel was the rejection of votes of two of his party MLAs.

Setback for Shah

Patel’s victory is a minor blow to BJP president Amit Shah, though he himself won a Rajya Sabha seat with ease. Shah’s ‘Midas touch’ was not very effective in stalling the Congress, and nor could he settle scores with Patel.

Shah had deployed all the resources at his command against Patel, whom he apparently saw as responsible for his troubles between 2010 and 2012 — when the BJP chief faced multiple court cases and had to cool his heels outside Gujarat on court orders.

The biggest loser, however, is former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who is likely to remain irrelevant at least for some time now.

Some of his supporters are expected to join the BJP soon but whether the ruling party will field them as BJP candidates in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections, or accommodate them elsewhere, remains an open question.

The enormity of reverses suffered by the Congress in the Rajya Sabha elections could be gauged by the defection of party MLAs who had originally supported Patel’s nomination; legislators who were still technically Congressmen but voted for the BJP member, MLAs who had to be taken to Bengaluru and back to Anand; those who went ‘underground’; and those who openly rebelled.

Patel lost votes across all these categories of Congress legislators. To compensate, he got a vote each from the NCP and the JD(U).

Shah, a former stockbroker, seems to have put to use his business strategies in electoral politics too — insider trading, dubba trading, shell companies, derivatives, hedging, hostile takeovers, etc.

But the Congress old warhorse, seen as a crisis manager and the third tallest leader of the grand old party, managed to scrape through.

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Published on August 09, 2017
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