Union Eight candidates were elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka and Rajasthan on Friday, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, while counting of votes in Maharashtra and Haryana was delayed due to rival parties trading charges.
Despite an embarrassment in Rajasthan when one of its MLAs switched sides, the BJP’s risk in Karnataka paid off when its third candidate was elected thanks to cross-voting by a JD(S) MLA and an independent member. In Karnataka, the BJP won three of the four seats, while the Congress breathed a sigh of relief in Rajasthan, where all three of its candidates were elected, despite suspicions of cross-voting and horse dealing.
The high-stakes race for 16 seats — six in Maharashtra, four each in Karnataka and Rajasthan, and two in Haryana — turned out to be a nail-biter, with the Congress and BJP swapping charges and even approaching the Election Commission.
Two BJP candidates in Maharashtra, Union minister Piyush Goyal and former state minister Anil Bonde, are almost expected to win. Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena, Praful Patel of the NCP, and Imran Pratapgarhi of the Congress are all in the same boat. The sixth seat is up for grabs, with the BJP fielding former MP Dhananjay Mahadik and the Shiv Sena fielding Sanjay Pawar.
Every Rajya Sabha seat matters to both the ruling BJP and the opposition. The ruling BJP’s count in the Rajya Sabha, which reached 100 for the first time in April, is anticipated to drop to 92. In Maharashtra, the BJP is predicted to win two seats and at least one in Haryana. Because seven seats in the Rajya Sabha are vacant, the party’s strength could rise again if the President nominates new members. Nominated members can join any party in the Rajya Sabha within six months.
Update |Rajya Sabha polls: BJP wins three seats in Maharashtra, handing Shiv Sena a setback.
Despite fears of cross-voting that led the Congress to sequester its MLAs in an Udaipur resort, the party was able to elect all three of its candidates — Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik, and Pramod Tiwari — in Rajasthan. While BJP candidate Ghanshyam Tiwari won, the independent candidate it endorsed for the fourth seat, media baron Subhash Chandra, lost.
The BJP received a boost in Karnataka as a result of the elections. Sitharaman and the BJP’s other candidate, actor-politician Jaggesh, were both elected. Cross-voting by a JD(S) MLA and an independent MLA helped the party’s third candidate, outgoing MLC Lehar Singh Siroya, win. Singh received 33 votes, while former MP D Kupendra Reddy of the JD(S) received 30 votes. The Congress, too, had fielded a candidate for the third seat, despite the fact that it lacked the necessary numbers. Mansoor Ali Khan, the party’s candidate, received 25 votes.
Two of the JD(SMLAs )’s stated that they did not vote for the party’s nominee. Kolar MLA K Srinivas Gowda of the JD(S) voted for Congress, while Gubbi MLA S R Srinivas put a blank ballot paper in the box, which would be deemed as invalid, according to JD(S) legislature party leader H D Kumaraswamy.
While Gowda acknowledged that he voted for the Congress candidate, Srinivas denied Kumaraswamy’s assertion, insisting that he voted for his own party’s candidate. “I voted for Congress because I love it… my future politics is with Congress,” Gowda, who has kept his distance from the JD(S), remarked. I was previously a Congress minister.”
Shobharani Kushwah, a BJP MLA in Rajasthan, voted for Congress candidate Tiwari, forcing the party to serve her with a notice.
The two BTP MLAs, Rajkumar Roat and Ramprasad Dindor, disregarded their party whip and voted for the Congress candidates, thanks to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s efforts. Gehlot succeeded to send a message to the party’s leadership by assuring the victories of the party’s three candidates.
Senior Congress leaders in Delhi have previously stated that the party’s leadership would make a decision on the simmering leadership issue in Rajasthan following the Rajya Sabha elections. “We cannot allow the issue to fester and force Rajasthan to follow Punjab’s path. “We have to make a choice any way and publicise it,” a senior leader remarked, referring to whether Gehlot should remain Chief Minister or be replaced by Sachin Pilot.
The success of the Congress candidates, according to Gehlot, was a victory for democracy. “From the start, it was evident that the Congress had the numbers to elect its three candidates. The BJP, on the other hand, attempted to engage in horse-trading by fielding an independent candidate. Our MLAs’ unanimity is a powerful response. In the 2023 Assembly elections, the BJP will have to face a similar setback,” he wrote on Twitter.
According to sources, the MLAs were transported to the Assembly in three buses, each carrying one of the candidates. MLAs were required to vote for the candidate who was on the bus with them.
All MLAs of Haryana, with the exception of independent legislator Balraj Kundu, voted for the two seats, which are being contested by three candidates. The ruling BJP has the votes to elect its candidate, former minister Krishan Lal Panwar, but the emergence of media mogul Kartikeya Sharma for the second seat against Congress candidate Ajay Maken has added to the uncertainty. Sharma urged that the votes of two Congress MLAs be deemed void, which sparked controversy in the high-stakes contest.
Sharma, who was backed by the JJP and the BJP, claimed that two Congress MLAs, B B Batra and Kiran Choudhry, had broken the voting process’ secrecy. In his protest to the EC, he alleged that both “showed their ballot papers to several individuals present in the Hall, apart from their authorised representative.” The Congress responded by writing to the EC, claiming that the objection was “frivolous.” Sharma’s accusation, he claimed, was a “unwarranted and illegal intervention.”
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Jitendra Singh, and Arjun Ram Meghwal, all Union ministers, met with the Election Commission and urged that Batra and Choudhry’s votes be deemed void. Carrying Maken’s letter, a Congress delegation led by AICC treasurer Pawan Kumar Bansal too approached the EC minutes later, saying the objection raised by Sharma and the BJP be rejected as it was “nothing but a weak and desperate attempt without any basis to disturb the pious election process.”
The BJP delegation also sought that three MVA MLAs in Maharashtra have their votes revoked for “compromiting and vitiating” the Rajya Sabha election process by publicly exhibiting voting papers.
Jitendra Awhad, Yashomati Thakur, and Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande, according to the BJP, breached the standard code for voting. Awhad and Thakur allegedly handed delivered their ballot papers to their respective party agents rather than simply handing them the ballots, while Kande allegedly showed his ballot to two different agents.
“Norms in Maharashtra and Haryana were blown to the wind. We have requested that the ECI disqualify the votes that were not polled in accordance with the rules. ECI has told us that it will examine the facts,” said Naqvi after meeting the EC.