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Amid Poaching Fears, War of Words Between BJP-Congress, Voting for Gujarat Rajya Sabha Bypolls Today

The bypolls on the two seats from Gujarat were necessitated after sitting Rajya Sabha BJP MPs Amit Shah and Smriti Irani resigned after their election to the Lok Sabha in May from Gandhinagar and Amethi.


Updated:July 5, 2019, 9:29 AM IST
Polling booth
Image for representation.

Ahmedabad: Voting for Rajya Sabha bypolls for two seats in Gujarat, which saw a protracted battle between the Congress and BJP, will be held on Friday.

The bypolls on the two seats from Gujarat were necessitated after sitting Rajya Sabha BJP MPs Amit Shah and Smriti Irani resigned after their election to the Lok Sabha in May from Gandhinagar and Amethi, respectively. Given its strength in the 182-member Assembly, the BJP is set to win both the seats for which voting will be held separately as per the Election Commissions (EC) notification.

Of the total 182 MLAs, 175 legislators are qualified to exercise their franchise this time. The BJP's strength stands at 100, followed by 71 MLAs of the Congress. Other MLAs eligible to cast their vote are two from the Bharatiya Tribal Party, one from the NCP and an Independent.

Since elections on the two seats will be held separately, a candidate needs to garner a simple 50 per cent votes to win. In the present scenario, each candidate needs 88 votes to secure victory.

According to election officials, three MLAs will not be able to cast their vote in the bypolls as they were disqualified for various reasons in the recent past. Also, four seats are lying vacant after their sitting MLAs resigned on getting elected to the Lok Sabha.

On the eve of the voting for the Rajya Sabha bypolls, Congress MLAs attended their legislative party meeting at a resort in Banaskantha district on Thursday. As many as 65 Congress legislators were shifted to the resort Wednesday night to foil any 'poaching' attempt by the ruling BJP ahead of the voting.

Though the Congress leadership had earlier said they would take their MLAs to Mount Abu, a hill station in adjoining Rajasthan, these legislators were finally shifted to 'Balaram Palace Resort', Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Paresh Dhanani said.

Dhanani reached the resort, located on the Abu-Palanpur highway in Banaskantha district, around 170km from here, late Wednesday night. Of the 71 Congress MLAs, 65 were taken to the resort, the party leaders said.

While disgruntled MLAs Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala skipped the meeting, four other MLAs had taken permission from party leaders for remaining absent, said state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi. Thakor and Zala had refused to get shifted to either Mount Abu or to the Banaskantha resort and had openly criticised the party for the move.

The four MLAs who were absent at the meeting are: Gyasuddin Shaikh, Imran Khedawala, Bhikhabhai Joshi and Vikram Madam.

"We have shifted our MLAs as a precautionary measure and as a part of our strategy. We all know the BJP had indulged in unethical practices and misused the machinery in the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections. The BJP can go to any extent to acquire power. That is why we had kept our MLAs at one place to hold a day-long workshop. They will return tomorrow morning, when voting would take place (in Gandhinagar),” said Doshi.

While the BJP has fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and OBC leader Juglaji Thakor, the Congress has nominated Chandrika Chudasama and Gaurav Pandya.

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