External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and OBC youth leader Jugalji Mathurji Thakor (Lokhandwala) on Tuesday filed their nominations from Gujarat as the ruling BJP candidates for the by-polls of two Rajya Sabha seats.
The seats fell vacant following resignations of Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani. Both offered their resignations after their election to the Lok Sabha in recently concluded general election.
Dr S Jaishankar, a former foreign secretary of India, joined ruling BJP formally on Monday, a month after taking oath as minister and a day before the last date of filing nomination for the Rajya Sabha seats.
Both the candidates submitted their papers to the Returning Officer-cum-Deputy Secretary of the Gujarat Legislature Secretariat C B Pandya at his office in the legislative assembly premises here.
State Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Dy CM Nitin Patel, BJP Gujarat president Jeetu Vaghani and others BJP leaders were also present during filling of the nomination.
The two BJP candidates had filed their nomination on a day when the Supreme Court had refused to interfere in the election on the Congress plea objecting to holding the two election on the same date but separately.
The by-elections would be held separately (ie each MLA can cast separate votes), but simultaneously on July 5 if the need arose.
Notably, the Election Commission had announced the poll on June 15 after which Congress opposed it for the by-polls being held separately. It had approached the Supreme Court on June 17 demanding simultaneous by-polls.
The EC had clarified that as each vacancy was considered a separate one, hence the by-polls were being held separately even though on the same date.
Looking at the arithmetic of the state assembly, ruling BJP is almost certain to retain both the seats. Both Shah and Irani had won in the Rajya Sabha polls held in August 2017 when elections were held simultaneously on the 3 seats of Gujarat quota. In a nail-biting finish, Congress leader Ahmed Patel had won the third seat with a close margin.
Congress has so far not taken a call on fielding candidates. The nomination would end at 1500 hours on Tuesday. Whip of the party in assembly Ashwin Kotwal said in his opinion that the party should not field any candidate and challenge the by-poll later in the apex court.