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NCP divided over supporting Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in RS polls

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Even as the party chief Sharad Pawar is willing to support Congress, his party is not on board. The decision is likely hours before voting. 

The Nationalist Congress Party, which has two MLAs in Gujarat, is yet to commit itself on supporting Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls due to be held Tuesday and a decision is likely only in the morning, party sources said.

Although NCP chief Sharad Pawar is said to be willing to support Congress, his party is still not on board, the sources said.

Congress has 51 MLAs in Gujarat, including outgoing Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela. The party fears cross voting by seven MLAs. Ahmed Patel needs 45 votes to win the election, making the two NCP votes critical.

Senior NCP leader Praful Patel had Sunday said the party hadn’t decided on supporting any party in the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat. “Although we had fought the elections as a UPA partner, there is no such alliance at present. Final decision will be taken after consulting with senior party leader Sharad Pawar,” he had said.

NCP contested the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections in alliance with Congress and won two seats.

However, Majeed Menon, another NCP leader and MP, Monday gave some hope to Congress when he said “Sharad Pawar has made it very clear that we are with UPA and would vote for Congress candidate”.

Sources said Pawar wants the MLAs to vote for Congress. But MLAs have demanded that they should be allowed to vote as they wish. The MLAs, Kandhal Jadeja and Jayant Patel, had participated in Vaghela’s rally on 21 July where he announced his decision to quit Congress. 

Patel is traveling to Ahmedabad Monday to talk to the MLAs before a decision on voting is taken Tuesday morning.

The NCP hasn’t issued a whip to the MLAs to vote for Congress but Ahmed Patel is confidant. “I have received a message that NCP will support my candidature and would also issue a whip,” he said.

He has also claimed that he has the support of the lone JD(U) MLA, Chhotubhai Vasava.


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