Gujarat Congress leader PK Valera on Monday filed his nomination as an independent candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls in the state, PTI reported. Meanwhile, the BJP fielded former MLA Kiritsinh Rana as a “third candidate”.
The BJP has already fielded union ministers Purshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandavia, while the Congress has nominated Amiben Yagnik and tribal leader Naren Rathwa. Elections will be held on four seats on March 23.
Valera filed his nomination as an independent candidate with the support of 10 Congress MLAs, PTI reported citing sources.
Rupala, Mandavia, and Yagnik filed their nominations well before the Election Commission’s 3 pm deadline. However, Rathwa delayed filing his nomination, and only arrived at the returning officer’s office with Congress leaders around 2.30 pm. Rana and Valera also filed their nominations during the last half-an-hour allotted for the purpose.
The BJP said Valera’s action revealed the “infighting” within the Congress party. “Today’s episode has brought to the fore tremendous infighting in the Congress party,” Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said. One of its leaders PK Valera has filed his nomination as an independent candidate with the support of some Congress MLAs. This might split the votes of Congress MLAs.”
“The delay in filing of nomination forms by Rathwa was also a result of infighting,” Patel claimed. When asked about the delay, Rathwa told reporters he had to procure one of the papers required for nomination.
However, state Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki said both Yagnik and Rathwa would win their seats.
In August 2017, Gujarat Congress leader Ahmed Patel barely managed to secure a Rajya Sabha seat. Several Congress legislators had resigned prior to the election, and two cross-voted. But the Election Commission decided to disqualify the ballots of two Congress MLAs who voted for the BJP.