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4-min read

Satyamev Jayate, Says Ahmed Patel After Scraping Through in Gujarat

Within minutes of his hard-fought victory, Ahmed Patel took to Twitter, saying, "Satyamev Jayate." In a series of tweets, the political advisor to Sonia Gandhi expressed gratitude towards his MLAs, calling his victory not just his own but "a defeat of the most blatant use of money power, muscle power and abuse of state machinery."


Updated:August 9, 2017, 8:51 AM IST

Ahmedabad: A day of intense drama in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election concluded with the victory of political advisor to Sonia Gandhi Ahmed Patel on late Tuesday night. BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani were the other winners of the day.

Bharat Singh Solanki, the Gujarat MLA, was the first one to claim on CNN-News18 that Ahmed Patel had received 44 votes and won the Rajya Sabha seat.

Within minutes of his hard-fought victory, Ahmed Patel took to Twitter, saying, "Satyamev Jayate." In a series of tweets, the political advisor to Sonia Gandhi expressed gratitude towards his MLAs, calling his victory not just his own but "a defeat of the most blatant use of money power, muscle power and abuse of state machinery."

"I want to thank each & every MLA who voted for me despite unprecedented intimidation & pressure from BJP. They voted for an inclusive India."

"BJP stands exposed of personal vendetta and political terror. People of Gujarat will give them a befitting reply in this year's election," read another tweet. Congress has always stood united, he told CNN-News18.

Patel had a word of appreciation for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi post his victory. Ahmed Patel said that "Congress will emerge as a different political outfit under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi".

Arjun Modhwadia, the Congress leader, said that Ahmed Patel won the election, "saluting his MLAs who didn't bog down under pressure."

But the victory wasn't an easy one. The two parties, in what was described by many as a battle for prestige, locked horns not just in Gandhinagar but also at the Election Commission's office in New Delhi.

In normal circumstances, the results should have been declared at around 6 PM, but the process got delayed when the Congress registered a complaint with the Election Commission that two of its rebel MLAs had waved their ballot papers to "unauthorised people", demanding the disqualification of these votes.

The counting of votes came to a halt even before it could begin. The state EC forwarded the complaint to the Election Commission of India in New Delhi.

What ensued was a series of visits by Congress and BJP-led delegations to the Election Commission's office. The two teams comprising bigwigs such as Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad on the one end, and P Chidambaram and Gulam Nabi Azad on the other paid as many as three visits. There was so much of movement that, according to sources, the EC made it a point that it didn't want to meet any more delegations.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said there was video evidence which showed that ballot papers were waved to people other than the concerned authorities.

"There is ample evidence to suggest that rebel MLAs showed their ballot papers to the people who were not the representatives of the Congress party. Therefore, we demand the rejection of these ballot papers."

Chidambaram also said that in 2000, in a similar incident, the vote of an independent legislator was rejected because he had shown his ballot to the unauthorised person. Congress also alleged that BJP was using its ministers to exert "pressure on EC".

Rebutting Congress, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Congress was "levelling baseless allegations" and delaying the counting process.

"When they realised they were losing, they came up with these baseless allegations." We have communicated the same to the Election Commission, too, Prasad told media.

Piyush Goyal, who was also a part of the BJP delegation, said that the Congress didn't protest in the morning and was now making these allegations.

The Election Commission, after a long deliberation, directed the Returning Officer to declare the votes in question as "invalid".

These two rebel MLAs - Bhola Bhai Gohil and Raghav Bhai Patel - had voted in favour of BJP. If that wasn't enough, later in the night, BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya admitted to cross-voting for the Congress party, further paving the way for Patel's win.

Earlier in the day, the voting ended at around 2:30 in the after noon, but it was the lone JD (U) legislator, Chhotubhai Vasava, who was the centre of all attraction. After a Congress MLA cross-voted and an NCP legislator voted for the BJP, Vasava's vote was instrumental to Patel's win.

Chhotubhai Vasava told News18 that he had voted for Ahmed Patel. Not just that, he had accompanied Patel when he had filed nomination for Rajya Sabha in Gandhinagar. "Ahmed Patel is a public figure and a politician. I see no harm in accompanying him. After all, I have known Patel for a very long time," Vasava had said.

Many said that Patel was staring at a defeat when a series of defections in the Gujarat Congress and the subsequent departure of Shankarsinh Vaghela battered the party. Six of the Congress MLAs abandoned the party; 3 of them joined the BJP, later in July. Even Ahmed Patel was seen accepting that this was the most difficult elections of his political career.

In desperation, the Congress had flown 44 of its MLAs to Karnataka, alleging the ruling BJP was "intimidating and bribing" its MLAs to join its ranks. These MLAs returned to Gujarat just a day before the voting for the Rajya Sabha election.

When asked about the MLAs being holed up at a Karnataka resort, Ahmed Patel said that the ruling BJP forced his party to move the MLAs out of the state. "This victory will make a difference in the forthcoming Assembly elections," Ahmed Patel asserted.

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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