In what is set to come as yet another major setback to the Congress, the grand old party is now likely to lose late leader Ahmed Patel's hard-won Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress' prospects of losing the seat is primarily being accounted to the Election Commission (EC)'s decision to conduct separate by-polls for both of the two Rajya Sabha seats which fell vacant earlier this year.
For the uninitiated, Ahmed Patel's Rajya Sabha from Gujarat seat fell vacant on November 25, 2020, the day when the veteran Congress leader passed away at 71. His term was up to August 18, 2023.
The other seat of the upper house of the Parliament from the state belonged to the BJP's Abhay Bharadwaj, who died on December 1. His term was till June 21, 2026.
Both the leaders had unfortunately passed away due to post coronavirus disease (COVID-19) complications.
In light of the deaths, the Election Commission decided to hold seperate by-polls for both the seats, which is an advantageous situation for the BJP and could spell doom for the Congress.
Notably, in the state of Gujarat, the BJP has 111 MLAs while Congress has 65. Notably, a candidate needs 50% of the votes, i.e. 88 votes, to secure their seat.
These numbers make it clear that the elections are set to be a cakewalk for the BJP, which is set to win both the seats since there would be seperate by-polls for each of the two Rajya Sabha seats
Facing the prospect of loss, Congress has argued that it could have retained one of the two Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat had the polls been conducted on the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
Under the aforementioned system, each lawmaker's vote is counted only once, as they are asked to list their order of preference for the candidates. The candidate who is the first choice for most lawmakers ends up winning the seat.
However, the Central Election Commission (CEC) has already directed the Gujarat state election commission to conduct the by-polls for each of the two Rajya Sabha seats separately.
The BJP seems indomitable, set to win yet another Rajya Sabha seat in Gujarat. Currently, the saffron party holds seven seats to the upper house of the Parliament from the state, while Congress holds the rest. However, the grand old party is set to lose one of its remaining four seats in the face of these odds.