Hours after her top aide Ahmed Patel snatched a dramatic and close victory in the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat after midnight, Congress president Sonia Gandhi told NDTV today: "Thank God for the Election Commission."
Ahmed Patel won by the skin of his teeth after the Election Commission rejected the votes of two Congress rebel legislators.
To win he needed 44 votes and he got 44, returning to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat for a fifth term in a bitterly fought election that became a massive prestige battle between the Congress and the BJP.
"I am happy and relieved with his victory," Mrs Gandhi said, admitting that there was "so much tension."
She said she did not want to comment on the Gujarat situation. "My colleagues in the party have already spoken on this."
After voting ended in Gujarat yesterday, the Congress took the battle to Delhi, petitioning the Election Commission to disqualify the votes of two party MLAs who showed their ballot papers to the BJP's representatives.
After watching a video of the vote and several hours of deliberation, the poll panel agreed that they had violated secrecy.
The Election Commission order, delivered close to midnight, reduced the strength of the house to 174, which meant that each candidate needed 44 votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat.
Ahmed Patel's victory has galvanized the party ahead of elections in Gujarat later this year and in the middle of recent setbacks in states.