On Friday afternoon, all Gujarat candidates of the BJP - Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramilaben Bara, and Narhari Amin and Indian National Congress (INC) - Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki marched into the Vidhan Sabha to file their nomination forms.
However, hell broke loose in Congress party when Narhari Amin came out of the office after filing the nomination forms, and spoke to the media. While answering a question about the numbers not being in the favour of the 'third candidate' of BJP which is Amin, he said that 'The way that I changed my heart in 2012, Congress MLAs will also do the same'. What the Patidar leader was insinuating was that he himself had left the Congress Party in 2012 and now several other MLAs either might leave the party or might cross-vote in favour of Amin.
Amin, grinning the entire time while addressing the media said he will go to speak to the Congress MLAs before the BJP ones because the 'Congress MLAs are sad'. "They are sad. They don't know that they are being exploited. They don't understand that they will never be treated rightfully by the Party. That is the reason that I had also quit the party. It is a party of no leaders," Amin added.
Echoing this sentiment, the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel also made similar statements. "We have all the numbers we need to win all three seats of Rajya Sabha. Congress has always been divided and has had so many internal fights that it is impossible for them to see face to face about anything. This Rajya Sabha election, one of their leaders will have to lose," said a smiling Rupani while addressing the media.
While the BJP was masquerading around and boasting that they had all the numbers that they needed, the Congress party members and MLAs were in a huddle. There were several meetings that took place between the MLAs and several old Patidar leaders of the party to dissuade the party MLAs from cross-voting.
Many in the Congress Party also believe that the BJP wanted the Patidar leaders and members to fight internally and that is why Narhari Amin was fielded as the third candidate. "There is not a single Patidar leader in the RS elections this time and that is why BJP wanted to start an internal fight as well," said a top leader of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC).
Several leaders also said that the name of Narhari Amin holds no weight for the members of GPCC since his 'true colours were seen by the members during the 2015 Patidar agitation' and that Amin made no significant move to make sure that the Patidar youth who were slapped with cases against them were exonerated or that their cases were taken back.
On a lighter note, several leaders in the Congress Party believe that a scenario like that of Alpesh Thakor will never be repeated because the leaders have learned that they will have to run faster to the Speaker's office in case there is an instance of cross-voting. "The Alpesh Thakor issue was different because before we could come to the Speaker's office, he had already gone and resigned. We have also kept all the papers ready to make sure that we can move quickly against any MLA who cross votes. We have intimated the MLAs as well," said a senior GPCC leader.
There are altogether 180 MLAs who will be voting since two seats of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly are lying vacant. Out of this, 103 seats are with BJP and 73 are with Congress. There are four Rajya Sabha seats going into elections from Gujarat. The total number of votes needed by each candidate to win this election will be 37. In this scenario, Congress and BJP both can comfortably win two seats each.
But now with the third candidate fielded by BJP, the BJP falls short of eight votes to win three seats. In this case, they might either try to woo the BTP (which has two MLAs in the Assembly) and NCP (which has one MLA). Even then, they might have to resort to trying to get Congress MLAs to cross vote for BJP as earlier declared by Amin.