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Polling begins for three RS seats in Gujarat


Gandhinagar:Polling for the crucial Rajya Sabha elections here in Gujarat began on Tuesday that will decide the fate of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and that of BJP chief Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.

While Patel is seeking a fifth term with his back to the wall, the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates are all set for an easy run.

As many as 176 legislators are expected to exercise their franchise for four contestants battling it out for three seats. The ruling BJP’s third candidate is Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput.

With 122 MLAs in the House of 182, two BJP candidates will easily sail through, but Patel with 44 Congress MLAs, appears to be falling short by one to win his seat.

The Congress had 57 legislators. But after six of them resigned in July, it was reduced to 51.

Seven from them are led by rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela.

Forty-four MLAs, whom Patel considers with him were even taken away to Bengaluru to prevent “further poaching” by the BJP. They returned only on Monday.

Patel is also banking upon the support of two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs and one Janata Dal (United) legislator to see him through.

It was not certain what position Vaghela and his six supporting legislators would take.