The Congress won six seats in the Rajya Sabha polls on Saturday but it was the BJP-led alliance that made significant gains with 12 seats in the biennial elections marked by cross-voting and a dramatic rejection of votes for a “wrong pen”.
The other major gainer in the elections held for 27 seats across seven states include the Samajwadi Party which won seven seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Bahujan Samaj Party won two.
Out of the 58 seats that fell vacant in the Upper House this summer, the NDA has now won 23, improving upon the 18 seats it held earlier. The Congress, which held 15 of these seats, now has nine.
31 candidates won unopposed last week.
Overall, the NDA now has 72 seats in the Rajya Sabha, still far off from the halfway mark of 123 that would allow the ruling alliance to push through key legislations stuck in the Upper House.
Though the backing of some its potential supporters such as AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) can push up the NDA’s strength to 106, the Congress still remains an influential opposition with 58 seats.
The remaining seats belong to regional parties like the BSP, SP and YSR Congress, who are likely to play key roles in the passage of legislations like the Goods and Services Tax bill.
The BJP’s gains on Saturday came from Rajasthan (4), Jharkhand (2) and Madhya Pradesh (2) but the most stunning victory came in Haryana where the party-backed independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra was declared the winner after the votes of 14 Congress MLAs were rejected on the ground that they used the wrong pen to mark their voting slips.
The 14 MLAs are said to have deliberately scuttled the prospects of the INLD and Congress backed-independent candidate RK Anand.
The 14 MLAs owing allegiance to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda were said to be unhappy with the party’s backing of Anand.
“Wherever BJP is there, cross voting and horse trading happens. Still we won crucial seats, said Ghulam Nabi Azad.’
In Jharkhand too, the Congress failed to secure the victory for JMM candidate Basant Soren, son of party supremo Shibu Soren, where the ruling BJP nominee Mahesh Poddar won by a whisker. Just before the voting took place, a JMM legislator was arrested in a case dating back to 2013. A Congress MLA, also facing arrest, skipped the elections.
The other BJP winner was Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The Congress, on the other hand, won handsomely in Karnataka where its candidates Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and K C Ramamurthy won due to cross-voting by JD-S MLAs.
Noted lawyer and Congress candidate Kapil Sibal won from Uttar Pradesh after Preeti Mahapatra, the wife of a Mumbai-based builder who jumped into the fray as the 12th candidate for UP’s 11 seats, failed to get the required numbers. She was backed by the BJP.
The BSP, which contributed to Sibal’s victory in UP, also helped the Congress candidate Vivek Tankha in Madhya Pradesh.
In Uttarakhand, Congress’ Pradeep Tamta defeated Independent candidate Anil Goel to win the lone seat from Uttarakhand and become the first Dalit from the hill state to make it to the Upper House.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram, union ministers Suresh Prabhu, Venkaiah Naidu, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitaraman, Congress heavyweights Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandez won in this season of biennial polls.