BJP candidate Abhay Bhardwaj being sanitised. (PTI photo)
GANDHINAGAR: Of the 172 MLAs eligible to vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat on Friday, 170 legislators cast their votes, while two others from the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) stayed away from the process after they demanded a written assurance about the welfare of tribals, migrants and Dalits.
Voting for the election to four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat commenced at 9 am and ended at 4 pm.
While the BJP had fielded three candidates, two candidates were in the fray from the Congress.
Apart from 103 members of the BJP, including Chief Minister
, 65 members of Congress and one MLA of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) cast their ballots before 3 pm. The only Independent MLA, Jignesh Mevani, also cast his vote.
In the morning, two BTP MLAs -Chhotu Vasava and his son Mahesh - claimed they would not give their votes until and unless they are given a written assurance about the welfare of tribals, migrants and Dalits.
Talking to reporters, Mahesh Vasava said that he and his father would vote only if they get a written assurance about the implementation of schedule 5 of the Constitution and PESA Act in Gujarat.
"Though our votes are important, people whom we represent are more important to us," he said.
"Despite repeated representation to both the parties in the past, nothing has been done for the welfare of ST,SC, OBC, minority and migrant workers. We will think about voting only after getting an assurance," Vasava said.
Although the leaders from the BJP and the Congress later met the Vasava duo separately and tried to convince them, the two MLAs stayed away from voting.
Rajya Sabha election for four seats in Gujarat became necessary as the BJP decided to field a third candidate, taking the number of candidates in the fray to five.
While the Congress had fielded Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki, the BJP had fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramilaben Bara and Narhari Amin.
As per the numbers, each candidate required support of 35 MLAs to win the seat.
Although the total strength of the Gujarat assembly is 182, its effective strength has come down to 172 as 10 seats are currently vacant- eight due to resignations of Congress MLAs and two due to court cases.
While the BJP has 103 MLAs, Congress has 65, Bharatiya Tribal Party has two seats, NCP has one and one seat is held by Independent MLA Jignesh Mewani.