Ahmed Patel retains RS seat, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also win

Congress candidate Ahmed Patel retained his Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat on Tuesday, securing 44 votes, after votes cast by two Congress candidates were declared invalid for what the Election Commission found to be violation of the poll code.

The Election Commission made the announcement past midnight on Tuesday after both Congress and BJP leaders made representations to the Commission on the disputed voting.

While BJP president Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani won securing 46 votes each from BJP's vote pool, Patel was declared elected with 44 votes after the two votes cast by dissident Congress MLAs were declared invalid.

In the 182-member Gujarat assembly, 176 members cast their votes for the Rajya Sabha elections after 6 Congress MLAs resigned and joined BJP.

Congress tried to preserve the remaining votes by shifting its remaining MLAs to Bangalore till the elections. While this could not prevent cross-voting by two of its MLAs, it was the folly of showing off the ballot papers by the the two MLAs that saved Patel from losing the poll battle.

The two votes were declared invalid by the EC following complaint by the Congress for violation of polling rules.

Congress moved the Election Commission claiming violation of polling norms by two of its rebel MLAs - Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, showed their ballot papers to persons other than the authorised party agent at polling centre.

After a tug-of-war at the Chief Election Commissioner's office in New Delhi, both the parties made representations to the EC in bid to influence a decision. However, the EC, after detailed deliberations and inspection of CCTV footage of the voting, accepted Congress' appeal to cancel votes of the two MLAs. This reduced the minimum votes needed for victory from 45 earlier to 44.

Patel thanked Congress workers and wowed to revive the party in the state after several of its top leaders, including Shankarsingh Vaghela, quit the party.

While BJP national president Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani made it to the Upper House with 46 votes each, the party's third candidate and Congress turncoat, Balwantsinh Rajput lost to Patel in the final poll verdict.

While the political high drama ended in Congress victory, the party is still insecure with more dissents expected in the days to come, say political observers.