Rajya Sabha Election Results 2017: Congress' Ahmed Patel snatched seat from BJP in nail-biting finish
Gandhinagar: Congress leader Ahmed Patel snatched a late night victory in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections after the Election Commission rejected the votes of two Congress rebel legislators. Mr Patel won by the skin of his teeth. He needed 44 votes to win and he got 44, returning to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat for a fifth term in a bitterly fought election that became a massive prestige battle between the Congress and the BJP. The other two seats have been won easily by BJP chief Amit Shah, who makes his debut in Parliament, and union Minister Smriti Irani.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
- Amit Shah and Smriti Irani got 46 votes each. "Satyamev Jayate (the truth shall prevail)," Ahmed Patel tweeted a little before 2 am, announcing his win.
- Hours before, the Congress had taken the Gujarat battle to Delhi, petitioning the Election Commission to disqualify the votes of two party MLAs who showed their ballot papers to the BJP's representatives. After watching a video of the vote and several hours of deliberation, the poll panel said they had violated secrecy.
- The Election Commission order, delivered close to midnight, reduced the strength of the house to 174, which meant that each candidate needed 44 votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat, instead of 45, a target that was seeming increasingly impossible for Ahmed Patel to get amid cross voting and defections in his party.
- Ahmed Patel's win was the best news the Congress has had in a long while and party workers engaged in frenzied celebration in Gandhinagar. Mr Patel is political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and his win on Tuesday in a face-off with the BJP's master strategist Amit Shah is a big shot in the arm of the opposition party ahead of assembly elections later this year in Gujarat, where it has steadily lost ground to the BJP.
- Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were sure to win given the BJP's big numbers in the Gujarat assembly, whose members vote for the Rajya Sabha election. The party also fielded a third candidate to challenge Ahmed Patel for the third seat.
- Ahead of the election, the Congress saw six legislators resign in a rebellion allegedly designed by veteran politician Shankarsinh Vaghela, who too exited the party two weeks ago after he was sidelined. Three joined the BJP, one of them Balwantsinh Rajput, the candidate who lost to Ahmed Patel today.
- Mr Patel was counting on 44 of the Congress' 51 MLAs to support him. One of the 44 voted against him, so he had 43 votes from his party. It is not known yet who else voted for the Congress leader - he had expected Chhotubhai Vasava, the lone Janata Dal (United) legislator, and one of two MLAs from Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to vote for him.
- Clearly only one of them did. A BJP rebel Nalin Kotadiya announced late in the night that he had voted against the party.
- Less than an hour into voting on Tuesday morning, Shankersinh Vagehla had called the election, declaring Ahmed Patel defeated. Mr Vaghela said Mr Patel would "not even win 40 votes" and confirmed he had voted against the Congressman.
- At least six more Vaghela loyalists still with the Congress - including the two that the Election Commission disqualified - are believed to have voted for the BJP.
Election Results for Lok Sabha Election 2019 will be out on May 23. Get the latest election news and live updates on ndtv.com/elections. Catch all the action on NDTV Live. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for news updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the election 2019