RS polls: Tough challenge for Patel as Shah factors in

RS polls: Tough challenge for Patel as Shah factors in

RS polls: Tough challenge for Patel as Shah factors in

An old rivalry between BJP president Amit Shah and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s key political secretary Ahmed Patel has unfolded in Gujarat as the two are now their respective party’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha polls.

It is no secret that Shah and Patel have been sworn political rivals in Gujarat. While Shah is seeking his maiden entry into the Upper House, Patel is hoping for a fifth term.

Shah believes that during the Congress-led UPA regime at the Centre, Patel played a key role in sending him behind bars in connection with the killing of Ishrat Jahan and three other suspected terrorists.  

Shah was then Gujarat’s home minister. He had to resign in the aftermath of the case and was jailed for a few months before being given bail and asked to live outside Gujarat.

Shortly before the Narendra Modi government assumed office at the Centre in May 2014, the CBI told a special court that there was “not enough evidence” to prosecute Shah, post which he got a clean chit.

As the Rajya Sabha polls were announced in Gujarat, BJP sources claimed Shah was keen to ensure that Patel did not get elected to the Upper House.

He wanted the admission of three MLAs from the Congress — Balwantsinh Rajput, Prahlad Patel and Dr Tejshree Patel — into the BJP, just a day before the last date for the filing of nominations. For this, Shah’s managers waited for Patel to file his nomination papers first. Though Patel filed his papers on Wednesday after ascertaining his chances, the Congress leader could not have factored the exit of six party MLAs in two days.

The Congress MLAs joined the BJP as soon as Shah arrived at the state headquarters in Gandhinagar on Thursday evening, BJP sources said.

Patel needs the support of at least 46 of the now 51 MLAs from the Congress.

During the Presidential poll, it was seen that 11 Congress MLAs from Gujarat had cross voted in favour of NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind.

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