Ahmedabad, Aug 7: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has on record predicted the defeat of Congress nominee Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election slated to be held on Tuesday in the state.
He was commenting to the return of the 44 Congress MLAs who reached Ahmedabad Monday morning at 4.30 from Bengaluru where they were taken by the party leadership to prevent further defections to the BJP.
Chief Minister Rupani accused these MLAs of neglecting the lakhs of flood affected people of the state and enjoying their stay at the resort in Bengaluru. “Here in the state when hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from the heavy floods, these MLAs were enjoying in a resort in Bengaluru”, Rupani said while talking to Doordarshan on Monday.
He said that even after their return they were taken to a resort in Anand. “Ahmed Patel will not get elected to Rajya Sabha”, he predicted.
Earlier in the wee hours all the 44 Congress MLAs returned to Ahmedabad from Bengaluru. Ahmed Patel was at the airport to receive them on Monday. From the airport they were taken to Neejanand Resort in Anand in two buses. “We are confident of victory, all MLAs are with us”, Patel said.However, one of the buses got stuck due to its height and then its engine had failed. The police on duty had to push the bus to get it started. This was considered as ‘bad omen’ for the party by the people.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat has become the star attraction for the political observers and poll pundits all over the country. This is mainly because of the candidature of Ahmed Patel, a high-profile leader of the Congress party.
Patel, who is also the political advisor of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, has been the member of the Upper House for the past four consecutive terms. He was given the party nomination again for the fifth time.
However, before the elections, Gujarat Congress suffered a major setback with senior leader Shankar Sinh Vaghela quitting the party along with his six supporter MLAs. Three of them joined the BJP and one amongst them – Balwant Singh Rajput, who was the chief whip of the party - was pitted by the BJP against Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls.
With this the strength of the Congress party in 182-member Gujarat Assembly has gone down to 51 from 57. The Congress requires support of minimum of 45 MLAs to get Ahmed Patel elected to Rajya Sabha. But against the background of cross-voting during the Presidential election where 11 Congress MLAs had voted for Ram Nath Kovind, the party fears that the same could be repeated this time also.
So to avoid such an embarrassment the party decided to shift all the 44 MLAs to Bengaluru resort owned by Karnataka Minister D K Shivakumar (DKS). To add to the woes of the party, the ED sleuths raided DKS properties and found hard cash stacked besides some incriminating documents. This has brought much disrepute to the party.
Meanwhile, both Amit Shah and Ahmed Patel are in Gandhinagar and likely to meet their party MLAs in the afternoon to decide the strategy for Tuesday’s crucial polls. With the BJP’s big numbers in the Gujarat assembly, Amit Shah will sail through and make his Parliament debut. Ahmed Patel’s fate still hangs in the balance.