New Delhi/Ahmedabad, August 7: In a setback for Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday announced it will support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajya Sabha Polls in Gujarat. However, Congress candidate Ahmed Patel on Monday said that he has a support of “enough” number of MLAs, including those belonging to the JD(U) and NCP, to win the battle.
NCP legislator Kandhal Jadeja said that his party has decided to support the saffron outfit. “Our party has asked us to support BJP in tomorrow’s RS elections,” Jadeja said.
Ahmed Patel, who is also a political advisor of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, accused the ruling BJP of “intimidating and torturing” Congress MLAs and their families to “trigger more defections”, which forced his party to shift 44 legislators to Bengaluru.
After meeting 44 Congress MLAs at Nijanand Resort located on the outskirts of Anand, Patel addressed the media. The MLAs are expected to stay at the resort till Tuesday morning. Also Read – BJP Intimidating Congress Legislators Ahead of RS Polls, Alleges Ahmed Patel
“The Gujarat Rajya Sabha election is not at all about anyone’s prestige. I have full faith in my MLAs. Apart from these 44 (Congress) legislators, two of NCP and one of JD(U) would give their votes to me,” Patel said in response to a query on how he would get the magic number of 45 to win the prestigious poll.
Apart from these 44 MLAs, seven other Congress legislators have not opened their cards yet and there are chances that they may vote for Ahmed Patel. “Even Shankersinh Vaghela has announced that he will give his vote to me,” Patel said outside the resort.
The senior Congress leader claimed that although NCP had on Sunday said that it had not decided about giving support to any party and said some latest reports suggest that NCP has taken a decision to support him. Patel also attacked the BJP for forcing Congress MLAs to shift their base to Bengaluru.
“I do not understand why the BJP decided to field its third candidate (against him) when they are still short of 16 votes. The way Congress MLAs were targeted for defection, our democracy has been turned into a ‘banana republic’. We were even kept under surveillance. Even I was kept under surveillance by the government,” Patel said to news agency PTI.
“In a bid to trigger more defections, our MLAs and their families were intimidated and tortured. That is why our MLAs were shifted to a safer location,” he added.
Apart from Ahmed Patel, BJP President Amit Shah and Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani’s fate will also be decided on Tuesday. The Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat is seen as a battle of prestige between BJP and Congress.
(With inputs from PTI)