Rajya Sabha elections: The rise of the independents

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 02, 2016 12:36 IST
Members of Rajya Sabha during a session of parliament in New Delhi. (PTI File)

Predictable most of the times and a routine affair that hardly generates much political heat, the Rajya Sabha polls have come alive, thanks to several Independent candidates entering the fray for the June 11 polls.

Though the spotlight is on Priti Mahapatra, the glamorous wife of a prominent businessman from Odisha, several other independent candidates from Haryana to Madhya Pradesh have added equal fizz to the elections, upsetting calculations of both ruling and opposition parties.

Priti Mahapatra, wife of businessman Harihara Mahapatra, filed nominations on Tuesday from Uttar Pradesh, potentially jeopardising the established arithmetic of biennial polls in the state. Seen as an outsider in UP politics, Mahapatra claimed she enjoys the support of BJP and some other parties of the state.

Her entry has forced an election as she is the 12th candidate for 11 seats. The Congress, according to analysts, could suffer if Priti can mop up votes across party lines.

In Haryana two seats have fallen vacant and three prominent candidates have filed their nomination for them.

Read: Navjot Sidhu among 6 nominated to Rajya Sabha

Union minister Birender Singh is seen as the frontrunner for one seat while media baron Subhas Chandra and lawyer RK Anand will fight for the second berth. Chandra, the head of the Zee TV empire may enjoy tremendous clout in political circles, especially in the ruling establishment but Anand too, is not a lightweight. He had been in the Rajya Sabha as a Congress MP before switching over to INLD.

In a major twist in the Rajya Sabha election in Madhya Pradesh, BJP’s state general secretary Vinod Gotia filed his nomination as an independent candidate on Tuesday. Gotia is among five candidate in the election for 3 seats.

The last date for withdrawal of the nomination papers is June 3 while the date of poll is June 11.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP had already fielded Anil Madhav Dave and MJ Akbar while the Congress nominee is lawyer Vivek Tankha. Shashi Stela from the Bharatiya Gareeb Party, who filed her nomination papers on Tuesday, is likely to fall out of the race as there no proposer to her candidature. Sources said this will lead to rejection of her papers.

Gotia’s entry could put the Congress’ calculations into disarray, sources said.

Bihar is the only state that will not see any last-moment entry and the fate of candidates is almost sealed. The RJD has given ticket to party chief Lalu Prasad’s eldest daughter Misa Bharti and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani. The BJP has fielded former state president Gopal Narayan Singh for the lone seat being contested by the saffron outfit.

Read: Misa, Jethmalani RJD’s likely nominees for Rajya Sabha

For the Congress, the RS polls in Uttar Pradesh will see return of Kapil Sibal in the Upper House. Apart from P Chidambaram, who is contesting from Maharashtra and Tankha from Madhya Pradesh, Sibal will be the third legal luminary who will come to Rajya Sabha at a time when the BJP is gaining strength in the Upper House.

Read: Chidambaram files nomination papers for RS polls from Maharashtra

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