A battle of nerves was played out at the Election Commission headquarters here Tuesday night with both Congress and the BJP sending high-powered delegations to present arguments over the cliffhanger Rajya Sabha poll involving Ahmed Patel.
Congress had whisked away 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to prevent them from switching sides and defecting to the BJP.
In the following assembly elections, in 1998, its score went up to 53 in the house of 182, plus the four MLAs of Vaghela's Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP).
The Congress has the support of 51 lawmakers along with seven from the Shankarinh Vaghela camp. Amid intense speculation that the Gujarat Assembly could be dissolved after the crucial two-day Monsoon Session beginning tomorrow, and that elections could be held in mid-October, Patel accused the BJP government of targeting the Congress and "torturing" the family members of its MLAs.
The Congress is also fighting against the None Of The Above (NOTA) provision in the polls apprehending turncoats in its own fold. BJP President Amit Shah and union clergyman Smriti Irani seemed set for simple wins.
He further said that the main motive of leaders of his party is to strengthen the NCP in Gujarat.
Former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela did not vote for Mr Patel.
"However, out of 44 votes of our MLAs that we had expected to get, only one MLA has cross-voted and we have got two more votes", he claimed.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel, also the political adviser to party president Sonia Gandhi is seeking a fifth Rajya Sabha term, but according to Vaghela his chances of winning are bleak.
Earlier on 6 August, NCP leader Praful Patel gave jitters to Congress after he announced that his party had not taken a decision on whom to support in the ensuing elections.
"My vote went to Balwantsinh Rajput", said another rebel Congress MLA and Vaghela supporter Dharmendrasinh Jadeja.
"Congress hadn't been listening to us for a year". Patel needs 45 votes to win the seat.
Notably, the NCP and the JD (U) MLAs had accompanied Patel when he filed his nomination. The elections are significant due to the high-profile candidates involved - BJP president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel.
Asked about allegations of surveillance on him and Congress MLAs by the ruling BJP, he said: "I don't know why I am targeted like this". Lawmakers in Gujarat will vote for three Rajya Sabha seats on Tuesday.