With independent candidate Santosh Bagrodia choosing to stay on in the Rajya Sabha election fight, the contest for four seats from Rajasthan has hotted up, especially for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The biennial Rajya Sabha polls are slated for June 17. Thursday was the last date for withdrawal of nomination.
Bagrodia, a sitting Rajya Sabha member from Congress, was not given a ticket by the party this time. So he filed as an independent. If political analysts are to be believed, his presence is going to hurt the opposition BJP's chances the most.
There are now five candidates in the fray, including union minister Anand Sharma from the Congress and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani from the BJP.
Congress nominee Narendra Budhania got elected to the Rajya Sabha Thursday as he was contesting on a seat declared vacant after the death of BJP MP Srikrishan Valmiki.
The Congress has 102 legislators in a house of 200 while the opposition BJP has 79 members on its side. The outcome of the polls will depend heavily on non-Congress and non-BJP legislators.
For Congress candidates Anand Sharma and Ashk Ali Tak, the elections seem just a formality. The odds, however, are stacked against BJP candidates Ram Jethmalani and V.P. Singh.
The BJP will need 82 votes to ensure a win for both its candidates. The party is confident of getting the support of lone Janata Dal-United legislator Fateh Singh. But it would still require the support of two more legislators.
Chances of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which has three members in the house, supporting the BJP seem bleak, sources say.
"We have not yet decided, but will do so soon," Amra Ram, a CPI-M legislator, told IANS.
Even the Loktantrik Samajwadi Party and Samajwadi Party, which have one member each in the assembly, don't seem too keen to support the BJP's candidates as they consider Jethmalani an outsider.
"The state BJP is divided over the selection of Jethmalani as a candidate," said a source, adding that its president Arun Chaturvedi too was against him.
The 13 independent legislators seem to be in favour of the ruling Congress, with Bagrodia believed to have a tacit understanding with the party, party sources say.
Bagrodia, who has been campaigning here for the last few days, is trying to win over these legislators, they say.
The BJP will stand a clear chance only if CPI-M abstains from voting. In that case, the BJP can win two seats with 40 votes each. However, if the CPI-M votes against the BJP, the latter will be able to win only one seat.