RS polls: Political drama unfolds in Gujarat as voting for 4 seats begin

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on June 19, 2020

File photo   -  istock/jcrosemann

BJP confident of winning three seats; Congress continues to struggle for second seat

A battle of prestige between Gujarat’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress kicked off on Friday morning as the voting for four Rajya Sabha seats began amid much excitement.

Polling began at 9 am today in the State Assembly campus in Gandhinagar. The members can vote till 4 pm. The counting of votes will begin at 5 pm and the results are expected later in the evening.

A total of five candidates are in the fray for the four seats, the battle for which has sparked off a political tug-of-war between the ruling and opposition parties.

The BJP has fielded three candidates: Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramilaben Bara and Narhari Amin for the Upper House of Parliament. The Congress, on the other hand, has given tickets to two senior party leaders for the Rajya Sabha: Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.

Interestingly, none of the parties has absolute numbers to secure all four seats. The BJP, on its own, can safely secure two of the four seats going to the polls, whereas the Congress, with its reduced strength in the State assembly, can secure just one seat on its own.

A fierce battle is playing out for the fourth seat, which both parties claim they will secure.

“We are confident that the BJP will be able to secure three seats comfortably. We have the numbers with us,” claimd Jitu Vaghani, State BJP President.

The Congress has seen its strength dwindle from 77 in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls to 65 after a series of defections over the past two-and-a-half years.

Of the total Assembly strength of 182, the current effective strength is 172, as 10 seats are currently vacant following the resignations by eight Congress MLAs in March this year and court cases on two seats.

As per the vote matrix for the Rajya Sabha polls, each candidate will require 35 preferential votes to secure victory.

The BJP, with its 103 MLAs, can easily secure two seats, while for the third seat it falls short of two votes.

The Congress, with 65 MLAs, can secure just one seat comfortably, while for the second, it lacks five votes. However, independent MLA Jignesh Mevani has extended his support to the Congress candidate.

Other parties, including the Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has two seats, and NCP with one seat, are key in this crucial vote for the fourth seat.

Notably, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Election Commission has made arrangements to maintain safety protocols during the polling process. While face masks and social distancing norms are already in place, all MLAs entering the Assembly campus are being screened for temperature. Those, showing any symptoms of fever or cough are sent to a separate waiting room before being allowed to cast their votes.

Four MLAs from the Gujarat Assembly, including three from the ruling BJP and one from the opposition Congress, had tested positive for coronavirus. But all of them have received treatment and have recovered.

Published on June 19, 2020

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