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Cong leader files as Independent in Gujarat, BJP fields 'third' nominee

Cong leader files as Independent in Gujarat, BJP fields third nominee
Gandhinagar: The "infighting" in the Congress came to the fore on the last day of filing of nominations for the Rajya Sabha elections on Monday, with party leader P K Valera staking claim as an Independent while the BJP fielding former MLA Kiritsinh Rana as a "third candidate".
Seven candidates, including Valera and Rana, have filed nominations for four seats falling vacant from the state, for which elections will be held on March 23.
Three out of the seven candidates filed their nomination papers in the last 30 minutes before the 3-PM deadline today.
Union ministers Purshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandavia are the nominees of the BJP while the Congress has fielded Amiben Yagnik and tribal leader Naran Rathwa.
However, the entry of Valera, a former IAS officer and current general secretary of the Gujarat Congress, has made the elections interesting.
He filed his nomination papers as an independent with the support of some Congress MLAs, after two official candidates of the party filed their forms.
A source close to Valera said 10 MLAs of the Congress have signed his nomination papers.
As Rupala, Mandavia, and Yagnik submitted their forms, Rathwa delayed filing his nomination, giving rise to speculations on the second candidate of the Congress, with name of Rajeev Shukla started doing the rounds.
A short while after 2:30 PM, nearly half an hour before the 3-PM deadline for filing of papers, Rathwa turned up along with state Congress leaders at the office of Returning Officer here and submitted his papers.
Later, BJP's Rana also filed his nomination as a third candidate for the party.
The nominations of Rathwa, Valera, and Rana were filed with the deadline half an hour away.
A person called Paresh Mulani also filed his nomination as an Independent. However, leaders of both the BJP and the Congress denied that Mulani was associated
with them.
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