After a nail biting Rajya Sabha contest, Congress veteran Ahmed Patel, BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani were declared winners following counting of votes at Swarnim Sankul in Gandhinagar.
Voting began at the Swarnim Sankul 2 premises at 9 a.m. The results were expected to be declared around 6 p.m., but the counting of votes wa delayed multiple times - when EC examined the Congress demand to invalidate votes of two of its rebels over cross-voting and when the BJP raised technical issues.
With inputs from Mahesh Langa, our Gujarat correspondent:
1: 45 am: Ahmed Patel retains Rajya Sabha seat, according to sources from the Election Commission.
Congress party members and workers are celebrating, even as Mr. Patel tweets "Satyameva Jayate" from his account.
"This is not just my victory. It is a defeat of the most blatant use of money power,muscle power and abuse of state machinery"
"I want to thank each & every MLA who voted for me despite unprecedented intimidation & pressure from BJP.They voted for an inclusive India," he tweets.
11: 30 pm: Election Commission declares votes of Bhola Gohil and Raghavji Patel invalid.
The two MLAs cross-voted while showing their ballot to the BJP polling agent in violation of the EC rules.
As per the EC rule, the legislator cannot show the ballot to any unauthorised person except the own party’s polling agent authorised by the EC. “The EC has held two votes invalid,” BB Swain, Gujarat’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) told The Hindu .
Meanwhile, the counting of ballots has not begun even after the EC’s green signal because the BJP raised several technical issues.
9 pm: PTI reports: Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel says the EC will take a call on the Congress demand for invalidating votes of two of its MLAs who claimed to have voted for BJP nominees. He also alleges that the Congress was raising “non-issues” as the Opposition party has “sensed defeat”.
7.35 pm: We are awaiting EC’s decision and green signal for counting. As per rule, counting has to be concluded today itself, Chief Electoral Officer B.B. Swain tells The Hindu.
7.07 pm: Mahesh Langa reports from Ahmedabad: It's now the turn of the BJP to knock at EC’s doors with the demand to declare the vote of Congress MLA Mitesh Garasia invalid.
6.35 pm: Devesh Pandey reports from New Delhi: The Election Commission says that no decision has been reached on the Congress demand to invalidate the votes of two of its MLAs who cross-voted.
5.55 pm: Confusion over counting of votes amid reports that the EC has declared two votes invalid.
5.30 pm: The Congress wants votes of Bhola Gohil and Raghavji Patel declared invalid.
5.15 pm: The lone JD(U) MLA in Gujarat, Chhotu Vasava, says he voted for Ahmed Patel “as the ruling BJP has done little for tribal people and the poor”. Mr. Vasava represents the Jhagadia (ST) seat in Bharuch district of south Gujarat. (PTI)
5 pm: The Congress raises technical issue over the votes cast by Mr. Patel and Mr. Gohil — both cross-voted but apparently did not show their vote to Congress polling agent.
2:20 p.m.: Voting ends with all 176 MLAs exercising their franchise.
2:00 p.m.: An official word from the Congress has confirmed cross-voting. Party in charge of Gujarat Affairs Ashok Gehlot says eight MLAs from their side have voted for the BJP. "Seven, including [Shankarsinh] Vaghela and his son were expected to vote for them [BJP], while one went from the 44 group," he said.
1.55 p.m.: The Congress demands that Raghavji Patel’s and Bhola Gohil’s vote be treated as invalid as they showed their ballot papers to both the Congress and the BJP polling agents, which is against the Election Commission’s rule. Both of them are Congress MLAs and have voted for the BJP.
1.00 p.m.: Finally, Mr. Khanpura casts his vote.
12.45 p.m.: Congress MLA Dharshi Khanpura requests for proxy voting, citing hand injury. The BJP objects to it.
12.05 p.m.: Sanand MLA Karamshi Patel, one among the group of 44 Congress MLAs who were flown to Bengaluru, has voted for the BJP.
11.45 a.m.: Mr. Patel will win, says Congress MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh.
11.15 a.m.: According to ANI , Congress' Dharmendra Jadeja and Raghavji Patel have voted for Mr. Rajput.
11.10 a.m.: JD(U) MLA Chhotubhai Vasava voted for Mr. Patel, says Anil Bhagat — a confidante of Mr. Vasava.
10.45 a.m.: As both the BJP and the Congress claim that Mr. Vasava voted for them, Mr. Vasava tells The Hindu , "the ballot box will reveal who I have voted for."
10.25 a.m.: Mr. Vasava votes .
10.13 a.m.: All the Congress MLAs reach the Assembly to vote.
10.05 a.m.: '' I have not given my vote to Mr. Patel, says Mr. Vaghela.
9.40 a.m.: NCP's Jayant Bosky says ''I have voted as per the party's whip in favour of Mr. Patel'', he says.
9.30 a.m.: Mr. Vaghela arrives to vote.
9.15 a.m.: When Mr. Patel reaches the private resort in Anand town to meet the MLAs before they left for Gandhinagar to vote, he becomes emotional and asks them to forgive him if he had hurt anyone. All the MLAs express their support to him and assure him that he will win the seat.
9.10 a.m.: The NCP appears to be divided with its two legislators taking opposite stand. While Mr. Bosky says he will back the Congress, Mr. Kandhal Jadeja is in the BJP camp.
9.05 a.m.: BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani reach the Gujarat Assembly for voting .
9.04 a.m.: Sharad Yadav asks Mr. Vasava to vote for Mr. Patel. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had asked him to be with the BJP. Mr. Vasava says he will decide when he approaches ballot box.
9.01 a.m.: Mr. Vasava is with the Congress convoy.
9.00 a.m.: Voting for the three Rajya Sabha seats begins at Swarnim Sankul, Gujarat Assembly.
8.00 a.m.: 44 Congress MLAs are being taken in a bus from a resort in Anand town to Gandhinagar for voting.
Mr. Vaghela on Monday chose to maintain a silence on his choice of candidate but said Congress nominee Ahmed Patel remained his “friend.”
The 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs called on Governor Vajubhai R. Vala at the Raj Bhavan on August 5 and described the I-T Department raids against Karnataka Engery Minister D.K. Shivakumar, their host on behalf of the party, as “misuse of power” by the Union government.
While rumours were doing the rounds that the Gujarat Congress MLAs camping at the Eagleton Resort near Bidadi on the outskirts of Bengaluru were itching to return home, some of the legislators spent the day visiting temples and mosques for prayers.
The Supreme Court, on August 3, ruled that the ‘None Of The Above’ option introduced by the Election Commission three years ago, would stay put for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections 2017.
Click here for a short explainer on the Rajya Sabha elections and the NOTA option.