Balwantsinh Rajput is set to file an election petition as he found ‘legal lacunae’ in the EC order disqualifying two votes

A day after Congress veteran Ahmed Patel won a hard-fought Rajya Sabha election defeating his BJP rival Balwantsinh Rajput, the latter is preparing to challenge the election result.

Gujarat BJP in-charge Bhupender Yadav told ThePrint that Rajput will challenge the late-night EC verdict that finally enabled Patel to win the Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat.

“There are so many legal lacunae in the EC’s order. Rajput will challenge the EC order and possibly file an election petition on the issue,” Yadav told ThePrint from Ahmedabad.

The Election Commission of India, acting upon a complaint by the Congress, declared invalid two votes cast by two dissident Congress MLAs in favour of Rajput—a move that ultimately resulted in Ahmed Patel notching 44 votes to win the Rajya Sabha seat while Rajput bagged 38 votes.

Rajput, incidentally, is the former chief whip of the Congress in the Gujarat assembly and was quite close to Patel. He, however, recently defected to the BJP. The BJP, on the other hand, argued that the very concept of secrecy in voting in case of Rajya Sabha was redundant as it was a declared open ballot.

The EC, however, ruled that an elector can only reveal his/her marked ballot to the authorised representative of his/her own party and no one else. In case of the two dissident Congress MLAs—Bhola Bhai Gohil and Raghavji Bhai Patel—they showed their marked ballot to a number of people, mainly from the BJP—as evidenced from video recordings.

However, sources in the EC indicated that filing an election petition in this case may be technically not feasible. They said the option of an election petition is available only if results are changed without EC’s permission. That was not the case here. Since counting did not even begin until the EC processed the complaint by the Congress, the results were not out as well, until the EC decision came late Tuesday night.

An election petition can be filed in a high court to challenge the election of a candidate. It can be filed if there is any alleged “improper reception, refusal or rejection of any vote or the reception of any vote which is void”.

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