BJP candidate Rajput files plea against invalidation of 2 votes in RS polls

BJP candidate Rajput files plea against invalidation of 2 votes in RS polls
Balwantsinh Rajput, one of the three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in recently concluded Rajya Sabha polls from Gujarat, on Friday sought cancellation of Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s election as well as his disqualification from fighting RS polls for six years.

Rajput, who lost out in the race to Upper House to Congress candidate, in a plea before Gujarat High Court stated that the Election Commission order cancelling two votes by considering them as invalid was not as per rules and has sought cancellation of this order.

Ahmed Patel, who bagged 44 votes, along with BJP National president Amit Shah with 46 votes and Union minister Smriti Irani with 46 votes were declared as three winners from the state.

Rajput, who was chief whip of the Congress in Gujarat Assembly, quit the party and contest RS polls on a BJP ticket. He received 38 votes. Rajput was one of the 14 rebel Congress legislators to have quit the party before RS polls, with six of them resigning as legislators before voting for RS polls took place on August 8. This saw the effective strength of votes in 182-seat Gujarat Assembly reduce to 176. The candidate required 45 first preference votes to make it to RS from the state. The Congress party later flew 44 of its legislators to Bengaluru to avoid any more cracks within the party.

On the day of polling, Ahmed Patel got 43 votes of the 44 Congress legislators who had flown to Bengaluru, with one cross-voting.

Patel also got an extra vote from JD (U) legislator. The twist in the tale came when EC declared votes of two rebel Congress legislators as ‘invalid’ late in the night of polling day for apparent flouting of election norms. The EC acted on a complaint by Congress party. This saw the total number of votes required for a candidate to make it to Rajya Sabha to 44. With Ahmed Patel getting the requisite numbers, Rajput lost.

“No candidate can give money or any other incentive to voter…The way 44 were taken to Bengaluru, spending monies, not letting them meet anyone etc, it all comes under corrupt practices. So we have pleaded that his (Ahmed Patel’s) election be nullified and he is disqualified for six years from fighting polls,” Satyapal Jain, a lawyer representing Rajput told mediapersons.

Rajput in his plea has also questioned the authority of EC to cancel votes and question the returning officer’s decision. The petition has now been slated for August 21.

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