The Rajya Sabha seat that fell vacant after the death of Congress veteran Ahmed Patel, may go the BJP considering the saffron party’s strength in the Gujarat assembly vis-à-vis the Congress.
Ahmed Patel, a five-time Rajya Sabha member, died last month aged 71. The seat occupied by the Gandhi family loyalist was declared vacant on November 25, the day he died. His term was up to August 18, 2023.
In 2017, Ahmed Patel had to fight hard to save the Rajya Sabha seat he had held for four terms.
Another Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant on December 1 after the BJP’s Abhay Bharadwaj died. His term was till June 21, 2026.
The ruling BJP has a majority in the Gujarat assembly with 111 MLAs, while the Congress has only 65. A candidate either needs 50 per cent of the votes or 88 votes to be victorious.
The two seats will be filled by carrying out two separate by-elections, the Election Commission said on Wednesday. People in the know say the BJP is in a position to win both the seats.
The Rajya Sabha seats vacated by Amit Shah and Smriti Irani last year were won back by the BJP in a similar process last year. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar was one of the victorious candidates. The Congress has challenged Jaishankar’s victory in the Supreme Court.
The Congress has argued that it would have won one of the seats had the polls been conducted together on the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
The Centre countered Congress’ claim by saying the Election Commission has been consistent since 2009 in issuing separate notifications for by-polls to the Rajya Sabha.
The Supreme Court has not taken a decision on the matter yet.
Sources in the Election Commission told NDTV: “The practice of conducting separate polls has been going on for years and it has been upheld by the courts. Separate notifications will be issued for these two vacant seats and elections will be held separately in due course.”