Ahmed Patel now eyes Gujarat Assembly polls

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Yadav's greetings to Patel assumes significance because the JD (U) had asked its lone MLA in Gujarat, Chhotu Vasava, to vote in favour of BJP's Balwantsinh Rajput.

Apart from Sharad Yadav, two JD-U Rajya Sabha MPs - Ali Anwar Ansari and Virender Kumar - have also voiced their opposition to Nitish Kumar's decision to join hands with the BJP. After voting, Vasava told TOI that he would not follow the diktats of Nitish Kumar because the latter had aligned with the BJP. He later said he did not vote for the BJP because the saffron party has done little for tribal people and the poor.

After he lost to Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav from the Madhepura Lok Sabha seat in 2014, the JD (U) had sent Yadav to the Upper House of Parliament previous year. "I voted for Ahmed Patel". Tyagi's statements were however countered by Ambalal Jadhav, the JD (U)'s general secretary in Gujarat.

"Who is KC Tyagi to say anything?" "But Vaghela betrayed Ahmed Patel during polling", the source said. One day later, Vasava criticized his party leadership's reaction and asserted that he had voted for Patel.

"For 22 years the BJP has looted the state. How can I side with them", he told NDTV.

Mr Vasava said the decision to vote for Ahmed Patel "was my own" and pointed out that the party had issued no whip. Chief among critics of that decision in the JDU is former party president Sharad Yadav, who is said to be exploring new options. Yadav had been vocal while expressing his unhappiness after the JD (U)-BJP formed the government in Bihar.

Hundreds of his supporters, including some JD-U leaders, welcomed Yadav as he came out of the airport, shouting slogans in his support.

Patel's visit to Vasava's home to thank him reinforced the impression that he voted for the Congress. He is also hoping that a lawmaker from Sharad Pawar's NCP has voted for him.

The JD (U) had last night removed Arun Shrivastav, a close confidante of Yadav, from the post of party general secretary for writing "without authorisation" to the returning officer of the Gujarat Assembly, appointing an election agent for the Rajya Sabha poll.

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