Voting for the bypolls to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat began at the Assembly complex in Gandhinagar on Friday. State ministers Saurabh Patel, Pradeepsinh Jadeja and BJP MLA Arunsinh Rana were among the first few to cast their votes. While the BJP has fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and OBC leader Juglaji Thakor, the Congress has nominated Chandrika Chudasama and Gaurav Pandya. Voting for the two seats, which began at 9 am, will continue till 4 pm. The counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm.
Since election on the two seats is being held separately, a candidate needs to garner a simple 50 per cent votes to win. In the present scenario, each candidate needs 88 votes to secure victory. The Congress had shifted 65 of its total 71 MLAs to a resort in Banaskantha two days back. These MLAs would arrive here for voting after 10.30 am, a party leader said. Bypolls for the two seats from Gujarat were necessitated after Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani resigned as Rajya Sabha members following their election to the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and Amethi constituencies respectively in May this year.
Given its strength in the 182-member Assembly, the BJP is set to win both the seats for which voting is being held separately as per the Election Commissions (EC) notification.
Of the total 182 MLAs, 175 are qualified to exercise their franchise this time. The BJP's strength stands at 100, followed by 71 MLAs of the Congress. Besides, two MLAs from the Bharatiya Tribal Party, one from the NCP and an independent legislator are also eligible to cast their votes. According to the election officials, three MLAs will not be able to cast their votes in the bypolls as they were disqualified for various reasons in the recent past.
Four seats are lying vacant following the resignations of the MLAs from these constituencies after their election to the Lok Sabha.