Gujarat Rajya Sabha Polls: Setback for Ahmed Patel as NCP backs BJP

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Though these MLAs had claimed that they would abide by the party's decision, but Congress is still not sure of their support considering they attended Vaghela's birthday celebrations wherein the veteran leader announced his separation from the Congress.

The NCP, it appeared, was divided on the issue, with Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule, an MP, saying the party would back the Congress candidate.

Vaghela said that he has a suitable candidate in his mind whom he will vote for. The party will take the final call on Tuesday, said NCP leader Praful Patel.

Meanwhile, two Congress MLA Dharmendra Jadeja and Raghavji Patel have voted for the BJP.

"We are moving towards a Congress free Gujarat".

Within the Congress, which has been imploding since the 2014 Parliamentary elections, when many of its leaders like Birendra Singh, Jagdambika Pal and Rao Inderjit Singh exited to join the saffron brigade, the result of the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections would be of primary interest. With the BJP having 121 seats out of the 182 seats its two candidates Shah and Irani will win smoothly. Rajput is pitted against Ahmed Patel of the Congress and Shankersinh Vaghela's stance will decide who wins. Once they reach Ahmedabad, the MLAs will be taken to Neejanand Resort on Anand-Borsad Road in Gujarat.

Ahmed Patel, who today met Congress MLAs after they returned from their Bengaluru sojourn, said he was confident of his victory.

When the 44 MLAs alighted from a bus that brought them to Swarnim Sankul Complex in Gandhinagar, Gujarat BJP President Jitubhai Vaghela and other leaders welcomed them. He said that the voting rights of MLAs are their personal property and they have no obligation to reveal it in public.

Patel, who needs 45 first preference votes in a House with an effective strength of 176 MLAs, expressed confidence that he will win the election with the support of 44 party MLAs, and the backing of two NCP and a lone JD-U member.

The voting began at 9 the Swarnim Sankul Bhawan of the Gujarat Assembly building at 9 am and continue till 4 pm. The counting will commence at 5 p.m.

On the eve of the high voltage Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, in which Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel is facing an all-out effort by the BJP to defeat him, the Congress central leadership is keeping its fingers crossed.

As the Assembly building is undergoing renovation, the RS elections will be held at Swarnim Sankul-II building which houses Vijay Rupani Government's junior Ministers.