GANDHINAGAR: Two Independent candidates fielded by the Congress and BJP in Gujarat pulled out from the race for the Rajya Sabha election on Thursday, making the election to four seats in parliament's upper house a straightforward affair.
The BJP and Congress have fielded two candidates each for the four seats and they have been declared elected.
Sources said the two candidates withdrew their claims after consultations between Congress and BJP leaders.
It is not clear if the BJP played along because it figured the election would not alter the final outcome. Last week, BJP leaders had spoken about resentment among Congress leaders over nomination of one of its two candidates Ami Yagnik and declared that some of them could support the BJP's third candidate.
"We do feel that there is lot of resentment in the Congress against candidate selection and that's why we have filed an Independent candidate backed by us. There will be cross-voting," Gujarat's Deputy Chief Minister, Nitin Patel had announced.
Doubts over the nomination papers filed by the Congress' second candidate Naransinh Rathwa had further raised the BJP's hopes. Mr Rathwa was eventually able to produce the document - a certificate from the Lok Sabha secretariat that he did not have any pending dues - at the last minute and the returning officer did not find anything wrong with it.
But the BJP signalled its intention to make the Congress sweat when it rushed senior ministers including Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to the Election Commission. The BJP team alleged that the certificate could be a forgery because it appeared to have been submitted in Gujarat nearly 30 minutes after it was issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat in Delhi.
By then, the BJP had already nominated a third candidate, Kiritsinh Rana, apart from fielding union ministers Purshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya, for the two seats.
The Gujarat assembly has 182 members -- the BJP has 99 and the Congress has 77. A candidate needs 38 votes to win. So while the BJP can ensure that two of its candidates sail through, it will have a surplus of 23 votes. The Congress too has enough lawmakers for two seats but some cross vote, the party will be in trouble.
The BJP had already been working on a plan to milk what it had described as resentment in the Congress over Ami Yagnik's nomination and get some of them to vote the BJP backed candidate.
Members of a state assembly elect Rajya Sabha members by what is called proportional representation with a single transferable vote. Each voter ranks his preference, and if the first candidate on the list has enough votes to win, or no chance of winning, the vote is transferred to the next choice and so on.