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YAAD NAHI, BHOOL GAYA 2017 RAJYA SABHA POLLS: GUJARAT BJP PRESIDENT CROSS-EXAMINED IN HC

March 14, 2019 08:03 AM

COURTESY MIRROR MARCH 14

YAAD NAHI, BHOOL GAYA
2017 RAJYA SABHA POLLS: GUJARAT BJP PRESIDENT CROSS-EXAMINED IN HC
Jitu Vaghani, who appeared before HC to give his statement in favour of Balwantsinh Rajput, was asked nearly 100 questions. His standard reply to even questions like ‘was there TV in the voting room’ and ‘what smartphone you used 1.5 years ago’ was ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t recollect’
Nikunj.Soni@timesgroup.com | TWEETS @NikunjMIRROR

Gujarat BJP President Jitu Vaghani might be ‘clueless’ about the state of political affairs if his testimony in Gujarat High Court on Wednesday is anything to go by. And with Lok Sabha polls round the corner, that is not a good sign. To most of the nearly 100 questions posed to him in the HC regarding the highly dramatic and controversial Rajya Sabha polls in 2017, which had the BJP and the Congress at each other’s throats, Vaghani’s standard reply was: “I don’t know” or “I do not recollect”.

He appeared before the high court to give his statement in favour of Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput who lost the Rajya Sabha polls against Congress leader Ahmed Patel in 2017. Rajput then went on to challenge the decision of the Election Commission of India.


Asked if the delegations of the Congress and the BJP had met Election Commission of India on August 8, 2017, Vaghani told the HC that he was “not aware” of it. Senior counsel BB Naik and counsel Pankaj Champaneri had posed around 100 questions to Vaghani but he avoided replying most, saying, “I cannot recollect” and “I don’t know”. This is the first time that a Gujarat BJP president has undergone cross-examination in HC.

The crucial Rajya Sabha election had senior leaders like BJP’s national president Amit Shah, cabinet minister Smriti Irani and Congress’ veteran leader Ahmed Patel in the fray.

At the last moment there was a legal tangle over an issue of validating two votes cast by Congress turncoats Raghavji Patel and Bhola Gohel. Both the MLAs had allegedly flaunted their votes to the persons other than their polling agent (Shaktisinh Gohil). The Congress delegation had raised the complaint with the EC which then rejected the two votes, paving way for Ahmed Patel’s victory.

Vaghani, who is also an MLA from Bhavnagar, replied, “I don’t know” when Ahmed Patel’s lawyer asked him whether Shailesh Parmar (Congress MLA) had registered an objection regarding the two votes flaunted by Raghavji and Gohel which was set aside by Returning Officer DM Patel.

The leader told the court he was also not aware if there was a TV set put up at the voting room and that if it was there in the room he did not know if it was switched off or on. Vaghani also tried to dodge a question regarding the procedure adopted to become the polling agent of Smriti Irani, saying “I don’t know”. He said whatever the procedure was, he followed it and signed the required forms. He also said “I don’t know” when asked which model of smartphone he had oneand-half-year back. He said, “I am not fully aware about the BJP’s constitution except parts of my post (president).”

At one point of time, there was roaring laughter in the courtroom when the lawyer took a jibe at Vaghani, asking him: “How is your memory?”

To this, Rajput’s lawyer immediately raised an objection, saying, “This is crossexamination not a medical check-up.”

Vaghani also tried to evade answering questions regarding agitation against him by Karadia Rajput community in 2017 and his appearance before a Mumbai court to honour a non-bailable warrant issued against him in a cheque-bounce case. He replied with “I don’t know” and “I cannot recollect” to the questions. Both the episodes had hit the headlines back during the time.

He remembers 1995, not 2017

However, he was able to recollect and inform the court that Shaktisinh Gohil (Congress polling agent for Rajya Sabha polls and the incumbent spokesperson of AICC) had “practice” of activities like booth capturing since 1995 polls. The court stopped him from recounting past incidents saying, “Only reply to a relevant question being asked by the lawyer”.

Furious with Ahmed Patel’s lawyer, Vaghani remarked, “If you want to agitate me so I would speak something (negative), I won’t be agitated. I know that mediapersons are sitting here.”

Vaghani, however, got agitated when Patel’s lawyer stated, “Tamey todfod karo chho (your party is expert in horse trading of Congress MLAs)”.

He urged the judge to stop conducting his testimony unless the lawyer was able to prove that the party induldged in horse trading.

State BJP president Vaghani also reiterated during his testimony that two Congress legislators Shailesh Parmar (Shaherkotda) and Mitesh Garasiya (Jhalod) had also shown their votes to the person other than their party’s polling agent in the voting room and their votes should be considered invalid.

Senior counsel Satya Pal Jain and counsel Devang Vyas appeared on behalf of Rajput in the high court. Though they appeared in personal capacity, Jain is the Additional Solicitor General of India at the Punjab and Haryana High Court and former MP of BJP while Devang Vyas is Additional Solicitor General of India at the Gujarat High Court.

 

 
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