AHMEDABAD, Aug 7 - The Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat slated for tomorrow has become a high-stakes battle for the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.
The elections to the upper house from the state, where assembly polls are due later this year, have received greater attention with BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani entering the fray and the Congress putting up its heavyweight Ahmed Patel.
The battle is set against the backdrop of dramatic political developments including the revolt in the Congress by veteran leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, resignation of half-a- dozen party MLAs and shifting of 44 MLAs to Bengaluru to protect them from what the Congress has called �poaching� attempts.
Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, needs 45 votes to win. His party at present has support of 44 MLAs, who have returned to the state after camping in a resort near Bengaluru for over a week. On their return this morning, they have been put up in a resort in Anand district. Even if none of them cross-votes or uses None of the Above (NOTA) option, the Congress will require one additional vote to ensure Patel�s victory.
Four candidates are in the fray for the three vacancies to the upper house of Parliament and the contest is expected to go down to the wire. Apart from Shah and Irani, the BJP has fielded Balwantsinh Rajput, who recently quit the Congress and joined the ruling party.
The Congress is banking on the support of two NCP MLAs and one each of JD(U) and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP). However, NCP leader Praful Patel yesterday said his party had not yet taken any decision on extending support to any particular party in these polls.
Notably, the NCP and the JD(U) MLAs had accompanied Patel when he filed his nomination. Chotubhai Vasava, MLA of JD(U), has been saying that he will only support those who will give something to his constituency.
The Congress is also hoping to win back a few of its seven MLAs, out of its total 51 in the state Assembly, who did not go to Bengaluru and are believed to be close to the Vaghela camp. � PTI