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Gujarat RS polls: Congress woes continue as NCP keeps them guessing


Ahmedabad, Aug 6: Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat on August 8, Senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Sunday said his party has not decided yet about extending support to any party.

NCP leader Praful Patel

The Sharad Pawar-led party, which had a pre-poll alliance with the Congress for the 2012 Assembly polls in the state, currently has two MLAs--Kandhal Jadeja and Jayant Patel.

These two MLAs had said they voted for the joint opposition's presidential candidate Meira Kumar. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the high-profile political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, is seeking a fifth Rajya Sabha term from Gujarat.

The election has become interesting since the exit of Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela and resignation of six MLAs of the party in the last few days, bringing down its tally in the 182-member House from 57 to 51.

Three of these MLAs later joined the BJP, which has fielded one of them in the RS polls.

Patel, the NCP in-charge for Gujarat, said people are now "searching" for the two MLAs of his party given the current scenario where each vote is crucial.

"Though the NCP was part of the previous Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, there is no such alliance at present. Though we are a small party with only two MLAs, we have suddenly become important and people are now searching for these two legislators," he told reporters in Anand.

Patel said the decision about supporting any party in the Rajya Sabha polls would be taken in consultation with Pawar.

"Our two MLAs, along with other leaders of the party from Gujarat, would discuss this issue with Sharad Pawarji who would then take a call on supporting a particular party," the former Union minister said.

When asked about Congress shifting its 44 MLAs to Bengaluru to "protect" them from the BJP ahead of Rajya Sabha polls, Patel said the party itself was responsible for the current scenario.

"Usually, Rajya Sabha MPs used to get elected unopposed. It is just because of the Congress that a contest is taking place this time. 14 of their MLAs have either left the party or have made up their mind not to vote for the Congress candidate," he said.

For the August 8 polls, the BJP has fielded its president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani on two seats, and Congress defector Balwantsinh Rajput on the third against Ahmed Patel.

Patel requires 45 votes to win the election. Though the Congress has claimed it has the support of 44 MLAs, remaining seven of the party's 51 legislators, who are not in Bengaluru, have not put their cards on table yet. The BJP, with 121 MLAs in the House, can easily get Shah and Irani elected. However, the party falls 14 short of the 45 votes required for Rajput's victory.


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