New Delhi: The Election Commission of India late in the night Tuesday declared invalid the votes cast bytwo Congress MLAs, The decision followed after a series of meeting the commission had with the Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
Following the Election Commission's verdict, the counting of votes, which was held up because of the complaint by the Congress, has been started.
The Election Commission order, delivered close to midnight, means that each candidate in today's election will now need 44 votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat, instead of 45, which was seeming increasingly impossible for Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, amid cross voting and defections in his party.
Election to elect three Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat assembly was held on Tuesday. Besides Ahmed Patel, BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani are also contesting the elections.
Voting ended at around 03:00 pm and counting of votes was about to start when Congress approached the Election Commission demanding to quash the votes of two of its MLAs.
The Congress asked the commission to invalidate the vote of two of its legislators who, after showing their ballot papers to the Congress election agent, also showed the BJP's agent how they had voted, which the party said violates polling norms.
The BJP rejected the Congress claim but the latter cited the example of Rajya Sabha polls when the vote of its senior leader Randeep Surjiwala was declared invalid due to similar reason.
Reacting on the EC ruling Gujarat Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki indirectly accused BJP president Amit Shah for what happened during the voting Tuesday morning.
"Everyone thought Amit Shah is always successful in unlawful, negative activities. But Gujarat proved this kind of authority won't work", he said while talking to reporters after the EC decision.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Patel accused the BJP of bribing Congress MLAs to ensure his defeat in the election.
"It was the most difficult election for me but was confident of my win. They (BJP) tried level best to buy our MLAs but failed and that is why I salute my MLAs. I don't want to comment on Amit Shah on personal level" Patel said.
The political Secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Patel needs 45 Gujarat legislators to have voted for him to win his Rajya Sabha seat consecutive for fifth term. He was counting on 44 of the Congress' 51 MLAs to support him - the others seen as loyalists of rebel leader Shankarsinh Vaghela. But one of the 44 is confirmed to have voted against him.
Shankarsinh Vaghela had earlier said Ahmed Patel is his freind and he would vote for him. But, hours before voting Tuesday morning, he said Patel was losing and hence "there is no wisdom to vote for a loser".