- Amit Shah, Smriti Irani's Rajya Sabha seats have been declared vacant
- Congress demanded polls to the 2 Rajya Sabha seats be held simultaneously
- The Congress also said staggering the polls would be against the law
The Congress on Thursday demanded that elections to two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat that have fallen vacant after Amit Shah and Smriti Irani's election to the Lok Sabha should be held together.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said holding the elections for the two seats separately would be against the rules.
"This would be a mockery of our constitutional ethos. It would be completely contrary to conventions. Whenever there are two seats of a state going vacant, you have elections together. It is obvious to everybody that the purpose of that is to ensure there is a fair exercise of franchise of each MLA," Mr Singhvi said.
"If you have one election today and one after two weeks, four weeks, six weeks then you will enable the ruling party MLAs (lawmakers) to simply cross 51 per cent in the assembly of Gujarat and elect (one) in the first round and (one) in the second round which is held after weeks," he added.
Rubbishing the allegation, the BJP said the "Congress has become a lie-spreading machine".
Amit Shah's Rajya Sabha seat was declared vacant on May 28 after he won his first Lok Sabha election from Gandhinagar in Gujarat in last month's election. Smriti Irani's seat was notified as vacant a day later; she defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his constituency Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The notifications were separate because while Amit Shah, the BJP president and Union Home Minister, was declared winner on May 23, the day of the national election results, Smriti Irani's result was announced only the next day.
"They are misleading the people. By-polls for Rajya Sabha always takes place separately," a BJP leader said.
Election Commission officials well-versed with Rajya Sabha polls agreed that by-polls to Rajya Sabha seats are always held separately.
The BJP has 99 legislators in the Gujarat assembly and the Congress has 77.
Mr Singhvi said if the election to each seat is held on different days, the BJP will win both in the "first-past-the-post" system since it has 20 more lawmakers. If the voting is held on the same day, the Congress can win one of the seats, he said. But these elections are never clubbed together, an election commission official pointed out.
Legislators vote in Rajya Sabha elections in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote system. Each lawmaker's vote is counted only once. The lawmakers list their order of preference for each candidate. The candidate that is the first choice for more voters, wins.