The ongoing Rajya Sabha elections is of paramount importance to both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress — while the Opposition is massively outnumbered in the Lok Sabha, the ruling party is in minority in the Upper House.
Any change in numbers in the Rajya Sabha will be a boost to the BJP, whose minority status in the Upper House has prevented it from pushing some key reforms such as the GST Bill.
Here are 10 things you should know about the Rajya Sabha polls:
1.In this phase of polls, 58 vacancies fell vacant from 16 states. The BJP appears to be on solid ground in Gujarat and Haryana, but any additional seat for J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK in Tamil Nadu will also be a positive for the ruling party as it expects Amma’s support on key issues.
2.Voting is being held on Saturday on only 27 seats across seven states. On the other 31 seats, candidates won unopposed on the last day of withdrawal of nominations for this biennial poll. P Chidambaram of Congress and railway minister Suresh Prabhu of the BJP are among those who won unopposed.
3.The results will be announced on Saturday evening. The polling started at 9 am will end at 4 pm, and the counting of votes will start from 5 pm.
4.The BJP is backing independent candidates in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana to stop Congress from winning additional seats.
5.This is the first time in the recent past that such a large number of independent candidates are in the fray, adding to the uncertainty in a usually predictable poll.
6.The BJP is expected to marginally gain over Congress. If a few independent candidates win, it will be a further blow to the beleaguered Congress. However, this will not change the saffron party’s minority status in the Upper House.
7.The biennial polls this year have been marred by allegations of cross-voting and horse-trading.
8.Uttar Pradesh has the most number of seats — 11 — and the last-minute entry of Preeti Mahapatra as the 12th candidate has made the contest interesting. Mahapatra is the wife of a Mumbai-based builder.
9.High-profile veterans in the fray include former law minister Kapil Sibal from Uttar Pradesh and former UPA ministers Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes.
10.The fight for the lone seat in Uttarakhand assumes significance as it may show Congress’ ability to keep its house in order after suffering a rebellion in the state. The wafer-thin majority of the ruling Congress in the hill state can come under pressure if the BJP is able to break its rival’s ranks and get its candidate a Rajya Sabha berth.