Patel assures Rahul of tough fight in Gujarat Assembly polls

BJP chief Amit Shah Union minister Smriti Irani defector Balwantsinh Rajput and Congress leader Ahmed Patel are in the fray the last two will face off against each other. Voting is scheduled to begin at 9

Former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Thursday alleged the Congress for plotting a conspiracy to lend the votes of two Congress MLAs in the Rajya Sabha elections invalid and further said that the Election Commission (EC) should not have interfered in the matter.

"This election became a prestige battle and ended with a bit of an embarrassment for Modi's party", said Devang Chudasama, a political science professor at Gujarat University.

He said, all crucial decisions related to Sardar Sarovar dam have been taken during the BJP rule, while Congress deliberately delayed these decisions.

Smriti Irani also won. Party leaders said that they just wanted to give Patel a scare. Shah found it easy to project his personal fight as the party's fight against the Congress as Ahmed Patel was the closest aide to Sonia Gandhi and identified with her. Patel's defeat would be a big blow to Sonia Gandhi.

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Even as BJP could not stall Ahmed Patel's re-entry into the Rajya Sabha, the saffron party nominees Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also won their seats.

Earlier in the day Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel reportedly cried before the legislators asking them to forgive him if he had ever hurt anyone when the MLAs were being taken to the polling station in a bus from a resort. The ruckus over the two Congress MLAs showing their vote to Shah is a precaution measure, in case some other vote is declared invalid by the returning officer under pressure from the BJP ruling party and its leaders.

The Gujarat Congress faced setbacks after Shankarsinh Vaghela resigned from the party, setting off a trend of defections leading to six other MLAs resigning from the Congress, out of which 3 subsequently joined BJP. According to many experts, the current BJP government in Gujarat is not so popular or efficient like the earlier Narendra Modi-led government.

One of the old Congress allies, Sharad Pawar's NCP is another possibility.

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Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad while reacting to the poll results described Patel's victory as a lesson for the BJP.

"This was a tough election, but we fought it like a family".

Congress tried to preserve the remaining votes by shifting its remaining MLAs to Bangalore till the elections. This time they may have met their match, as they are finding it hard to defeat the veteran Congressman who is confident of winning what he calls "the most bitter and hard election he has ever seen".

Modi said that Amit Shah had brought back the culture of hard work known in the Jan Sangh days. But the Election Commission invalidated both the votes.

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