How the ECI came to the rescue of Ahmed Patel
The disqualification of two votes helped Ahmed Patel of the Congress sail through into the Rajya Sabha for the fifth time. It was the Election Commission of India which declared the two votes as invalid as a result of which Patel was elected to the upper house of Parliament from Gujarat.
Had the ECI not accepted the contention by the Congress to declare the two votes as invalid, it would have been the end of the road for Patel. The Congress contended that the two votes be declared invalid since the MLAs had shown their ballot paper to BJP chief Amit Shah.
176 legislators of the Gujarat assembly voted on Tuesday. With the two votes being declared invalid and the total valid votes down to at least 174, each candidate needed 44 votes to win, instead of the earlier 45. Patel managed an exact 44 votes - the figure that was needed to win the election.
The senior Congress leader was counting on 44 of the party's 51 MLAs to support him. One of the 44 voted against him, so he had 43 votes from his party. It is not known yet who else voted for Ahmed Patel.
Patel was counting on Chhotubhai Vasava, the lone Janata Dal (United) legislator, and one of two MLAs from Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to vote for him.
The election turned out to be a close contest after the defection of six Congress MLAs recently. What also made the contest a cliffhanger was the cross voting by Congress MLAs.