In a setback to BJP, the Election Commission of India on Thursday told the the Gujarat High Court that it stood by its decision to declare Congress leader Ahmed Patel elected in the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat.
BJP’s Balwantsinh Rajput, who had contested the poll after having switched his loyalty from Congress to the saffry party, had approached the High Court demanding annulment of Ahmed Patel’s victory. However, the Election Commission told Justice Bela Trivedi that under The Representation of The People Act, it cannot be made a respondent to the petition filed by Rajput.
Irani, Shah and Ahmed Patel had won the closely contested election in August this year. The EC had rejected the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Raghavjee Patel and Bholabhai Gohel for flouting rules thereby paving the way for Patel’s election. Rajput had made Shah and Irani the other respondents. Both of them filed their response in the High Court that they supported Rajput’s petition against Ahmed Patel’s election to the Rajya Sabha, reported PTI.
The court adjourned the hearing to 10 November.
Ahmed Patel, in his reply filed last week, had sought dismissal of the petition, claiming that there was no substance in the allegations. Rajput had quit the Congress just ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha election for three seats from Gujarat, and was fielded as a BJP candidate along with Shah and Irani. Rajput, however, lost to Congress’s Ahmed Patel as the EC rejected the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Raghavjee Patel and Bholabhai Gohel for flouting rules.
Congress’s polling agent Shaktisinh Gohil had complained to the EC that both the MLAs showed their ballots to BJP leaders present in the booth before putting them into the ballot box. As per the rules, voters cannot show ballots to anybody other than the authorised polling agent of the party. Both the rebel MLAs voted for BJP candidate Rajput, instead of Ahmed Patel. With these two votes getting invalidated, the Congress leader trumped Rajput.
Rajput alleged in his petition that the EC order was “patently illegal”.
He also claimed that two other Congress MLAs had flouted the same rule by showing their ballot papers to unauthorised persons, so their votes should be invalidated, and he (Rajput) be declared winner.