Voting for the Rajya Sabha bypolls in Gujarat is currently underway in Gandhinagar. The Congress MLAs who were whisked away to Banaskantha resort for a ‘shivir’ in a bid to stop horsetrading, returned to Gandhinagar this morning to cast their votes. The bypolls were necessitated after Smriti Irani and Amit Shah vacated their Rajya Sabha seats after they were elected from Amethi and Gandhinagar respectively.
Congress’ nervousness is understandable as close Sonia-aide and senior leader of the party, Ahmed Patel, had only barely managed to scrape through in the Rajya Sabha elections in 2017. Even then, the MLAs were taken to the resort in Karnataka owned by Karnataka MLA DK Shivakumar to prevent them from defecting to the BJP and cross-voting.
While Patel managed to retain his seat, Congress leadership in Gujarat received a lot of flak for abandoning the people who voted for them during one of the worst floods Gujarat faced even as they enjoyed luxury in Bengaluru. It drew more criticism as special chef was arranged for to provide Gujarati meals even as the rescue operations in Gujarat were carried out in their constituencies.
BJP has fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Juglalji Thakor while Congress candidates are Chandrika Chudasma and Gaurav Pandya. The counting of votes will begin at 5 pm today.