Mahesh Trivedi | India Tomorrow
AHMEDABAD—The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is sure to have a walkover on the two vacant Rajya Sabha seats, byelections for which will be held separately on March 1.
BJP candidates Ram Mokariya and Dinesh Anavadiya will be declared elected unopposed on the same day as the opposition Congress in the 182-member assembly does not have adequate numbers and hence, did not field any candidate on the last day for filing nominations on Thursday.
While Mokariya, a surprise choice, has been a dyed-in-the-wool saffronite for the past 40 years and runs a popular courier company, Anavadiya is president of the Gujarat unit of BJP’s Other Backward Classes Morcha.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Congress MP Ahmed Patel in November and BJP’s parliamentarian Abhay Bhardwaj in December due to coronavirus pandemic complications. The Rajya Sabha terms of Patel and Bhardwaj were to end in August 2023 and June 2026, respectively.
If the byelections were to be held at the same time and not separately, both BJP and the Congress would have gained one Rajya Sabha seat each. But with separate voting by legislators, either BJP or the Congress will require the support of at least 91 MLAs.
At present, BJP has 111 MLAs while the Congress has 65 MLAs in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. The BJP will not require the support of even one lawmaker since elections to the two Rajya Sabha seats are to be held separately despite protest by the grand old party.
The BJP, which won 99 seats in the 2017 assembly polls, now has 111 legislators in a House of 182, while the number of the Congress MLAs has fallen from 77 to 65 after several desertions. The Bharatiya Tribal Party has two MLAs, the Nationalist Congress Party one, and Jignesh Mevani is the only independent MLA.
There is a total of 11 Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat: while BJP has seven, the Congress has four but will now lose one out of its four seats, thus failing to have a successor to popular veteran party leader Patel in the Upper House.
“We pulled out of the Rajya Sabha contest as we did not have the required number of legislators and also because we are busy concentrating on municipal and panchayat elections to be held on February 21 and 28,” senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia told indiatomorrow.net.