Nail-biting battle reveals with suspense behind Ahmed Patel's path to Rajya Sabha

Expressing happiness over Patel's victory, Congress president Sonia Gandhi thanked the Election Commission for its decision to disqualify votes of two rebel Congress MLAs who showed their ballot papers to BJP president Amit Shah.

On Tuesday, one after the other, delegations of both the parties made multiple visits to the Election Commission, seeking to counter each other's claims. For the Congress and the BJP the honours were split.

Smriti Irani also won.

The returning officer had reported that he had examined the complaints and viewed the video-recording of the polling process and rejected the objection raised by Congress election agent. The game was still evenly balanced as Patel had the required 44 votes in a house of 176.

The BJP sent a battery of its leaders including top ministers led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when the Congress complained against two of its legislators and demanded the rejection of their votes, the. However, on Thursday, he said, "Ashok Gehlot said I was acting under CBI pressure, I told him I won't vote for Ahmed Patel till he apologises for this comment". While the BJP decides whether it would go on appeal against Ahmed Patel's win to the Supreme Court, the Assembly elections in Gujarat are less than five months away.

Congress is in disarray not just in Gujarat but across the country.

Eight Congress MLAs cross-voted in favour of the BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput as also the two NCP legislators who turned their back on the party leadership to support the BJP. But it can give new heart to Congress workers, particularly in Gujarat.

Talking to reporters in Gandhinagar today, Shankersinh Vaghela said the BJP "will take care" of the MLAs who cross- voted, adding that he himself would not join the saffron party.

Congress tried to preserve the remaining votes by shifting its remaining MLAs to Bangalore till the elections. It was found that 30 MPs of the BJP were not present in the Rajya Sabha when voting was taken up on the crucial legislative proposal. If he wins, it would be his fifth term in the Rajya Sabha and Shah's first term in the Upper House, with the two men likely to come face-to-face on more than one occasion. But DM Patel then separated the two votes as the votes are invalid, before declaring the final result.

The victory of Patel, however, has acquired a totally different connotation.

It is very much likely that the Rajya Sabha drama may continue tomorrow with Patel having left for his hotel in Ahmedabad as the battle continues in the Election Commission.

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