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Counting in Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls delayed after Congress tells EC two MLAs revealed their votes

The party wants the ballots of two of its MLAs quashed for disclosing their choice to BJP National President Amit Shah.

Counting in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls was delayed on Tuesday after the Congress complained to the Election Commission that two of its MLAs had shown their ballot papers publicly, which was against election rules. Party leader Shaktisinh Gohil alleged that two Congress legislators had voted for the Bharatiya Janta Party and showed their ballots to BJP National President Amit Shah, who is one of the party’s candidates for the polls.

“If a voter shows his vote to anyone other than the party’s authorised agent, then his vote gets rejected,” Gohil told ANI. “Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel voted for the BJP and publicly showed their votes to Amit Shahji. It has been videographed.”

The Congress’ complaint has been sent to the Election Commission in Delhi. The counting will begin once the polling monitor replies.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and party leader RPN Singh approached the EC and also demanded that Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel’s votes for the BJP be quashed.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram brought up the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana in June 2016, when the Election Commission had cancelled Surjewala’s ballot for revealing his vote. “There is enough evidence that the ballot paper [of the two Congress MLAs] were seen by people other than those authorised,” the former finance minister said. “The EC must reject these ballot papers as it did in Haryana in June 2016.”

‘Election Commission put under pressure’

Another Congress leader, Arjun Modhwadia, told reporters that they had requested the BJP and presiding officer to watch the purported video in which the MLAs can be seen revealing their votes to Shah, but the BJP had objected to watching the clip jointly with the Congress.

Modhwadia also alleged that they had been waiting for the Election Commission’s decision since 9.30 am. “This shows that they are being put under pressure,” he said.

‘Congress is making desperate attempts’

His statement came minutes before a BJP delegation, including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman and Dharmendra Pradhan reached the Election Commission’s office in Delhi.

Prasad told reporters that the Congress was “leveling baseless allegations” and had not protested about the matter on Tuesday morning. “We requested the Election Commission to reject the Congress’ plea as once votes are cast, nothing can be done,” he said. “The process was fair.”

“Since morning, the Congress has been claiming a win,” the minister added. “Now with defeat staring them in the face, they are making desperate attempts.”

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