Ahmedabad: A day after securing a Rajya Sabha seat for Ahmed Patel, the political adviser to Sonia Gandhi, in a cliff-hanger election, the Congress on Wednesday cracked down on eight legislators who voted against him. Following the lead of strongman Shankersinh Vaghela, the legislators had defied the whip, or formal orders from the party, to vote for Mr Patel.
- MLAs had defied formal orders from Congress to vote for Ahmed Patel
- Shankarsinh Vaghela, son Mahendrasinh Vaghela among those expelled
- 'We have expelled them for 6 years': Gujarat Congress chief
Among the expelled legislators are Mr Vaghela - who exited the party last month -- and his son Mahendrasinh Vaghela. Miffed at not being projected as the party's Chief Ministerial candidate, Mr Vaghela had quit on his birthday last month. Six others left with him and three of them had promptly joined the BJP -- one of them Balwantsinh Rajput, the candidate BJP fielded against Ahmed Patel.
"We have expelled them for six years as they defied the party whip and cross-voted. We will take action against them under the anti-defection law also," Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Mr Patel had won the election - barely - after a prolonged, bitter, late-night drama that ended in disqualification of the votes of two Congress lawmakers in the early hours of Wednesday. The disqualification had brought down the number of first preference votes a candidate needed to win from 45 to 44. Mr Patel had polled exactly 44 votes.
Mr Patel was counting on the 44 of the party's 51 lawmakers, whom the Congress had whisked off to Bengaluru ahead of the elections; 43 of the votes came from the Congress. It is not yet known who cast the crucial 44th vote. But the Congress had also said they were expecting the votes of two legislators from Sharad Pawar's NCP, one legislator from JD(U) and Shankersinh Vaghela.
After the voting on Tuesday, Mr Vaghela had announced that he had not voted for Mr Patel. "He doesn't stand a chance, won't even cross 40... Even legislators currently with Congress will not vote for him," he had told reporters.