AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat Congress will issue a whip, asking all its sitting MLAs to remain present for the July 5 Rajya Sabha bypolls and vote for the two party candidates in the fray, a spokesperson said Monday.
State Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said the whip will be issued in the days to come and communicated to each of the 71 party MLAs through emails and also registered posts.
The bypolls in Gujarat will be held for the two vacant Rajya Sabha seats where the main opposition party is pitted against the ruling BJP in a straight fight.
Though the party is at loggerheads with its disgruntled MLA Alpesh Thakor and has even knocked the doors of the Gujarat High Court for his disqualification, he, too, will be issued the whip, he said.
"The party has started the process of issuing a whip for the upcoming Rajya Sabha bypolls. Two Congress candidates are in the fray for the two seats."
"Through the whip, the party would tell MLAs to remain present on July 5 for voting and give their votes to each of our two candidates. The whip will be served to MLAs in coming days," said Doshi.
"We will serve the whip to Alpesh Thakor also. During a recent hearing in the High Court, he himself told the court that he has not yet resigned as a member of the Congress or as an MLA.
"Thus, he is still a Congress legislator and whip will be served to him also," said the spokesman.
The bypolls were necessitated after sitting BJP Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, had resigned after their election to the Lok Sabha in May from Gandhinagar and Amethi, respectively.
While the BJP has fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and OBC leader Juglaji Thakor, the Congress has nominated Chandrika Chudasama and Gaurav Pandya for the bypolls for which MLAs constitute the electoral college.
Voting for the two seats will be held between 9 am and 4 pm on Friday and the counting will be taken up at 5 pm the same day.
Given its strength in the 182-member Assembly, the BJP is set to win both the seats for which voting will be held separately as per the Election Commissions (EC) notification.
Upset over the EC notification, the Congress had moved the Supreme Court, seeking its direction to the poll body to hold the elections to the two seats together as this gives a chance to the opposition party to win at least one of them.
However, the apex court had rejected Congress's plea last week. Of the total 182 MLAs, 175 are qualified to exercise their franchise. The BJP's strength stands at 100, followed by 71 MLAs of the Congress.
Other MLAs eligible to cast their vote are two from the Bharatiya Tribal Party, one from the NCP and an Independent.
According to election officials, three MLAs will not be able to cast their vote in the bypolls as they were disqualified for various reasons in the recent past. Also, four seats are lying vacant after their sitting MLAs resigned on getting elected to the Lok Sabha.
Since elections will be held separately, a candidate needs to garner a simple 50 per cent votes to win. In the present scenario, each candidate needs 88 votes to secure victory.