Sonia Gandhi and Congress may have put a lot at stake to save one man in Gujarat

Counting of votes for the three Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat has been delayed as the Congress moved the Election Commission seeking that votes of two party MLAs, who claimed to have voted for the BJP nominees, be declared invalid. The counting of votes was scheduled to start at 5 pm. The Congress claimed the two MLAs — Raghavji Patel and Bhola Gohil — belonging to Shankarsinh Vaghela group showed their ballots to the party’s authorised agent as well as to the BJP’s agent. In Gandhinagar, BJP’s heavyweight leaders lashed out at Congress’s strategy. “Congress is making baseless allegations since morning,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “We request the Election Commission to immediately begin counting of votes,” said Piyush Goyal as the impasse continued. Addressing the media at 8:15 pm, Congress leaders were confident that that the BJP’s allegations won’t hold water. “We met EC and pointed out violation of election rule as ballot papers of 2 MLAs were seen by other than the authorised person,” said P Chidambaram. Patel and Gohil showed their ballots to the Congress agent Shaktisinh Gehlot and to the BJP agent, thus their votes have become invalid, the Congress claimed. A defeat for Ahmed Patel will confirm senior party leader Jairam Ramesh’s worst fear. On Monday, Ramesh said the party was facing an “existential crisis”, pitching for “a collective effort” by party leaders to “overcome” the challenges it faced from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Ramesh said the business as usual approach will not work against Modi and Shah and advocated for a flexibility in approach to make Congress relevant. Congress, in its bid to save Patel, may have seriously jeopardised its plot to attempt a comeback to power in Gujarat in 2017. For starters, serial ignoring of Shankersinh Vaghela, purportedly at the behest of Ahmed Patel, hastened the exit of the former leaving a gaping wound. And on the other hand, by shifting its MLAs to Karnataka in the midst of flood situation in Banaskantha, the party has given BJP the much-needed vacuum in the traditional Congress stronghold with the saffron party working overtime to gain grounds there.
Source: ET

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