In a sensational development, the Election Commission of India has declared invalid the votes of two Congress MLAs, who had voted in favour of the BJP candidates. Soon after the order was made public, the counting for the Rajya Sabha polls started.
176 MLAs had cast their votes, but now the counting will be done for 174 votes.
This was after high profile delegations from both Congress and BJP made their representations before the poll panel.
The EC posted the order on its website (see below)
The order read, “Therefore, having regard to the above constitutional, legal and factual position, the Constitutional hereby directs under Article 324 of the Constitution read with Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Rules 39A and 39AA of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, and all other powers enabling it in this behalf, the Returning Officer to reject the votes cast by the said two MLAs, namely, Shri Bhola Bhai Gohil and Shri Raghavji Bhai Patel at the time of counting of votes by segregating the ballot papers concerned. Such segregation can be done at the time of counting with reference to the serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to the electors concerned as per the record maintained on the counter foils of ballot papers under Rules 38 A.”
Reacting to the development, Ahmed Patel said he appreciated the EC order and was now hoping to get 44 votes adding that he was confident of winning.
He said, “I appreciate the order of the Election Commission. I salute my MLAs & rank & file of the Congress Party.”
Meanwhile, the BJP has reportedly stalled the counting process alleging that one Congress MLA too had shown his ballot paper to an authorised person. However, in the video, the Congress MLA in question was seen showing his ballot paper to an authorised paper.
The counting for the three Rajya seats was scheduled for 5 PM on Tuesday, but the controversy had caused the delay prompting the EC to take a considered view on the claims by both the BJP and Congress party.
The BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad had argued that the Congress party ought to have made its claimed earlier in the day. However, Ahmed Patel, the Congress candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls, had said that his party raised its objections at the time of rules being violated.
The Congress claimed the two MLAs — Raghavji Patel and Bhola Gohil — belonging to Shankarsinh Vaghela group showed their ballots to the party’s authorised agent as well as to the BJP’s agent.
Patel and Gohil showed their ballots to the Congress agent Shaktisinh Gehlot and to the BJP agent, thus their votes have become invalid, the Congress claimed.