Guj min testifies in HC on plea challenging Patel's RS win
Ahmedabad: Gujarat minister Pradipsinh Jadeja on Wednesday testified in the Gujarat High Court in an election petition filed by BJP leader Balvantsinh Rajput, challenging the victory of veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel in 2017 Rajya Sabha election.
Jadeja, who is the Minister of State for Home, told high court Judge Bela Trivedi that Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil had snatched Congress turncoat Raghavjee Patel's ballot paper after noticing that he had voted for Rajput in August 2017 Rajya Sabha election for three seats in Gujarat.
He also told the court that since Congress MLAs Shailesh Parmar and Mitesh Garasiya had showed their ballot papers to persons other than the authorised agents, their ballot papers should have been cancelled, which was not done by the Election Commission (EC).
When the defence lawyer asked him during his cross-examination whether seven of the fourteen rebel Congress MLAs were subsequently given tickets from the BJP to contest the December 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections as an incentive for joining the saffron party, he replied in the negative.
Jadeja said that as per the decision taken by the party's parliamentary board in consultation with the state parliamentary board, the candidates were selected based on their popularity and other factors.
He also said he was not aware that Congress MLA Parmar had given a written complaint against Raghavjee to the returning officer.
Ahmed Patel was declared the winner after the EC invalidated the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohel and Raghavjee Patel, bringing down the number of votes needed for the victory to 44 from 45.
In his election petition, Rajput alleged that Patel had taken Congress MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru before the election, which amounted to "bribing the voters". He also said that the EC should invalidate the votes of two Congress MLAs Parmar and Garasiya.