Petition against Rajya Sabha election: Ahmed Patel cross-examined

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AHMEDABAD: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was Thursday cross-examined in the Gujarat High Court by the lawyer of BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput who has challenged Patel’s election to the Rajya Sabha in 2017.

Additional Solicitor General Satya Pal Jain, who appeared for Rajput in his personal capacity as lawyer, grilled Patel for two hours before Justice Bela Trivedi.

The cross-examination, which remained incomplete, would continue on Friday.

Among other things, Jain asked Patel when did he become the treasurer of the Congress and what was his role.

The senior politician replied that his job as the treasurer was to manage party funds.

The lawyer further asked Patel as to who paid the hotel bills during his stay at the time of election. Patel said the state Congress footed the bill and he later paid back the money.

Patel took exception to Jain adding “you being a senior Congress leader” as a prelude to his questions, saying he had appeared in the court as “Ahmed Mohhamed Patel” and not as a “senior Congress leader”.

However, Justice Trivedi told Patel that he should have come prepared when he said “I do not remember” to many questions.

“Inferences will be drawn” if he continued to answer in this way, the judge said.

Referring to a meeting of Gujarat Congress MLAs ahead of the election, Jain asked him to elaborate on what he said at the meeting.

Patel said he probably spoke for only one-two minutes and it was nothing more than thanking the party leaders and legislators.

When Jain asked whether he remembered anything other than that, Patel answered in the negative. He also said “no” when asked if he spoke to any of the MLAs individually.

When Jain repeated the question, Patel said then leader of opposition in the Assembly, Mohansinh Rathva, told him after the meeting that the party had issued a whip to the MLAs for the poll.

To this, Jain said, “Either you were lying earlier when you said you spoke nothing, or you are lying now.”

Rajput filed the election petition after he lost to Patel in the Rajya Saha election from Gujarat on August 8, 2017. The petition alleged that Patel bribed MLAs for votes.

Further, the BJP leader sought to quash the Election Commission’s order invalidating the votes cast by two rebel Congress legislators in Patel’s favour.

He also sought invalidation of votes of two Congress MLAs which were counted and went to Patel.

Patel got 44 votes in the election, the minimum he needed to win, while Rajput polled 38.

Source: Press Trust of India