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One Rajya Sabha Seat in Gujarat and the Sonia Gandhi-Amit Shah Ego Battle

Not only will this battle of prestige decide the future of Ahmed Patel, the political advisor to Sonia Gandhi, but also gauge the burgeoning political clout of BJP President Amit Shah.

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-News18

Updated:August 7, 2017, 7:45 PM IST
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One Rajya Sabha Seat in Gujarat and the Sonia Gandhi-Amit Shah Ego Battle
Senior Congress leader and political advisor to Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel. (Network18 creatives)
Ahmedabad: A month-long political drama, which entailed defections, and then the movement of MLAs from one state to another, will culminate in a final faceoff between the BJP and the Congress on Tuesday with voting for the three Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat.

Not only will this battle for prestige decide the future of Ahmed Patel, the political advisor to Sonia Gandhi, but also gauge the burgeoning political clout of BJP President Amit Shah.

The outcome of the Rajya Sabha election is likely to leave its imprint on the forthcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, scheduled for later this year.

"There is disgruntlement among Congress MLAs. Let us wait until tomorrow evening. Several Congress MLAs will vote against their candidate," Jitu Vaghani, the Gujarat BJP president, said.

A win for Ahmed Patel will not only infuse a fresh lease of life into his political career but also help Congress put up a decent fight in the Assembly election.

The Congress is said to have yielded ground to the BJP in the past few weeks, particularly after a series of defections from the party.

A loss for Ahmed Patel, however, could plunge Congress into a deeper crisis. Both the principal parties spent the entire Monday brainstorming their strategy for Tuesday's Rajya Sabha poll.

BJP president Amit Shah met Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his cabinet ministers separately, and then interacted with all the party MLAs.

Ahmed Patel, too, met the top party leadership and the Congress MLAs who touched down in Ahmedabad Monday morning from a Karnataka resort.

"I am completely confident I will win the Rajya Sabha seat. All the Congress MLAs are with me. Despite all the attempts by the BJP, it has not been able to break the unity of the Congress MLAs," Ahmed Patel said on Monday.

The arithmetic favours the BJP in Gujarat. With 121 seats in the Assembly, BJP shouldn't find it difficult to get Amit Shah and Smriti Irani elected to the upper House.

For the third seat, however, the ruling party will have to rely on the cross-voting by the Congress MLAs in favour of the BJP candidate.

For the Congress, the options are limited. The party has to ensure that all 44 MLAs who returned from Karnataka vote for Patel. Until late afternoon on Monday, Congress claimed it had the backing of two NCP legislators and the lone JD (U) MLA in the state.

The Congress flew 44 of its MLAs out of Gujarat to Karnataka where they stayed for over a week after a string of defections battered the party. The grand old party also alleged that the ruling BJP was using "money and muscle power" to poach its MLAs ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha election.
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