GANDHINAGAR: Political advisor to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, filed nomination papers for his fifth Rajya Sabha term from Gujarat here on Wednesday even as rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who recently resigned as Leader of Opposition, is all set to ambush him. Also adding to Patel’s troubles, BJP president Amit Shah has thrown his hat in the ring. Shah will be one of the two BJP candidates in the fray in Gujarat.
The decision to bring the party chief to Parliament for the first time was taken at the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting on Wednesday, Union minister J P Nadda said after the meeting. Shah represents Naranpura constituency in Ahmedabad in the state assembly. Union textiles minister Smriti Irani will also contest from Gujarat for the second time.
Vaghela sharpened his political knives as he threatened to resign as a Congress MLA to avoid voting for Ahmed Patel during RS elections on August 8 if Gujarat Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot did not tender an apology for recently levelling allegations that he had resigned from Congress “under fear of CBI and Enforcement Directorate”.”I don’t fear ED or CBI, they can raid me 10 times but will not find anything. If Gehlot will not apologize, I will resign as the MLA before the Rajya Sabha elections and avoid voting for Ahmedbhai,”
The threat came even as Vaghela said that he has promised Ahmed he will vote for him. “Ahmedbhai met me on Tuesday night and offered to withdraw if I want to contest RS elections. I declined his offer and assured he will get my vote,” said Vaghela.Patel’s RS election had already come under a cloud after cross-voting by a section of Congress MLAs during recent presidential elections. Shah’s entry raises the possibility of a fourth candidate entering the fray to edge out Patel with the help of Vaghela loyalists and surplus BJP votes. Patel would need 46 votes for a clear win. The UPA’s presidential candidate Meira Kumar had secured 49 votes from Gujarat.
After filing his nomination, Patel expressed confidence that he will win. When quizzed about Vaghela, he said, “He is upset with the party. I met him yesterday wherein he promised he will vote for Congress. I have no reason to disbelieve him.” He said NCP’s two MLAs and JD(U) MLA had also supported his candidature. Gujarat BJP president Jiti Vaghani said that Amit Shah and Irani will file their RS nominations on Friday.