New Delhi: BJP candidates, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and party OBC Cell member Jugalkishore Thakor won both the Rajya Sabha seats that fell vacant in Gujarat, with the ruling party getting 105 votes and the Congress managing 70, including that of Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani.

Polling for the two Rajya Sabha seats vacated by Union Ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani after they were elected to the Lok Sabha in the April-May elections ended at 4 p.m.

Voting took place at a single polling booth at the state Assembly complex with separate divisions for the two seats, since elections were held separately for the seats as decided by the Election Commission.

Speaking at a press conference, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, “External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Jugalji Thakor of BJP have been elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. Official results yet to be declared, but it is clear that we have won.”

Addressing the same presser, S Jaishankar thanked everyone for the polling process and added, “External Affairs Minister and Gujarat have a natural partnership. There is no such country where there is no Gujarati. If the prestige of India has increased internationally, Gujarat has a role in it…”

Since these were by-elections and Amit Shah and Irani had resigned on different dates, the elections to both the seats were conducted separately. The Congress had challenged this decision in the Supreme Court demanding joint elections but was turned down.

After this, on the basis of its strength of 100 MLAs, the victory of both the BJP candidates was a foregone conclusion. If the elections were held together, the BJP and Congress would have got one seat each on the basis of first preference votes of their MLAs voting only once. In the present situation, the legislators voted twice.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claimed the BJP also got votes of the only Nationalist Congress Party MLA Kandhal Jadeja as well as two of Bharatiya Tribal Party, including its leader and former Janata Dal-United strongman Chhotubhai Vasava. Vasava had snapped ties with the JD-U of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after he joined hands with the BJP.

Earlier, fearing horse-trading and cross-voting, the Congress had taken as many as 60 of its 71 legislators to a luxury resort in Palanpur in North Gujarat, instead of Mount Abu in Rajasthan. A bus-load of Congress MLAs arrived around noon to cast their votes. All voted for the party candidates.

With IANS inputs