For Top Sonia Gandhi Aide Ahmed Patel, A Supreme Court Setback

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The Supreme Court will hear Ahmed Patel's appeal in February.

New Delhi:

Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi's top aide Ahmed Patel has to face trial in connection with his election to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, which has been challenged by his rival BJP candidate, the Supreme Court said today.

The Supreme Court refused to interfere with a Gujarat high court order on October 26 that the allegations require a trial.

"Let the trial go on," said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SK Kaul.

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Ahmed Patel's election to the Rajya Sabha by a hair's breadth in 2017 was challenged by the BJP's Balwantsinh Rajput, who lost.

Mr Patel had challenged the High Court order dismissing his challenge to the BJP leader's election petition.

The Supreme Court will hear Ahmed Patel's appeal in February.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the Supreme Court had allowed the High Court to proceed with the trial but had restrained it from passing final orders.

He requested the bench that the same interim order be passed now. The bench rejected the plea.

Ahmed Patel, a top strategist of the Congress, won a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2017 in a bitterly fought prestige battle between the Congress and the BJP. In the run-up to the election, the Congress sequestered 44 of its 57 Gujarat lawmakers at a resort in Bengaluru to prevent the BJP from splitting its ranks.

The 69-year-old narrowly won that contest, but was taken to court by his BJP rival. Mr Patel won after the Election Commission cancelled the votes of two Congress rebels, bringing down the limit for an outright victory from 45 to 44.

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