Arithmetic and alliances in focus before today’s Rajya Sabha elections

Updated on Jun 10, 2022 05:00 AM IST

The elections in four states – Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka – would also be acid tests for leaders such as Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Preparations underway for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in Bengaluru on Thursday. (ANI)
Preparations underway for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in Bengaluru on Thursday. (ANI)
By, New Delhi/ Chandigarh/ Jaipur

As 16 seats of the Rajya Sabha go to polls on Friday, stakes are high for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that are trying to wrest an extra seat with the help of independents and smaller parties. The hotly-contested biennial election has already seen MLAs camping in resorts and allegations of horse trading from both sides.

The elections in four states – Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka – would also be acid tests for leaders such as Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

The election results will be out by Friday evening.

In Rajasthan, where a nominee requires 41 votes to win, five candidates are in the fray for four seats. In the 200-seat assembly the Congress has 108 legislators and the BJP 71. The Congress has nominated three candidates and the BJP has fielded its legislator Ghanshyam Tiwari and backed independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra.

The BJP has 30 surplus votes and will need 11 more for its second candidate. The Congress, which has 26 needs 15 votes to win its third seat. “The Congress has to worry about keeping their flock together. The party is in disarray, we have full confidence that our candidates will win comfortably,” said a state BJP leader.

In a drama that has played out over the past week, the state has witnessed everything from the sequestration of MLAs in luxury hotels to allegations of horse trading and corruption to disgruntled legislators choosing the moment to air their grudges to the involvement of the anti-corruption bureau. Parties have even approached the Election Commission and Enforcement Directorate with complaints about their rivals.

While the Congress chose the Chintan Shivir venue in Udaipur for its MLAs from June 2, the BJP shifted its legislators to a luxury hotel on the outskirts of Jaipur on Monday. The Congress’ candidates are Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Surjewala and Pramod Tiwari. The first two are expected to win easily.

In Maharashtra , seven candidates will fight for six seats; winning candidates need 42 votes. The BJP has 106 legislators in the 288-member assembly and has fielded three candidates, Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik. The BJP sounded confident of getting all three elected because it is banking on Mahadik’s friendships across party lines.

In Haryana, the BJP and its allies have 57 MLAs in the 90-member assembly and has named former minister Krishna Lal Panwar. It is also backing independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma. To win, a candidate needs 31 seats.

The BJP is keen to deny Congress nominee, AICC general secretary Ajay Maken a seat. The Congress has exactly 31 votes.

Sharma cannot win unless a few Congress MLAs switch sides or their votes are declared invalid. It is also not clear which way independent MLA Balraj Kundu and lone Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA Abhay Singh Chautala will vote. Both or one of the two may ultimately abstain.

“Why did Kartikeya enter the contest and why did the BJP-JJP back him if he did not have the numbers? He cannot win unless there is horse trading. If the BJP is not able to ensure his win, it would be embarrassing for it,’’ said a BJP MLA who asked not to be named.

In Karnataka, six candidates have filed their nominations for four seats. The BJP has 121 legislators in the 244-member house while the Congress has 70 and the JDS, 32.

The BJP is comfortably poised to win two of the four seats and the Congress one but both the BJP and the Congress have fielded an extra candidate for the fourth seat.

The BJP’s nominee is from Karnataka are Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Jaggesh and Karnataka MLC Lahar Singh Siroya. “We are confident that our third candidate will also win based on the second preferential votes. The Congress and the JDS are already engaged in a blame game,” said a Karnataka-based BJP leader who asked not to be named. A candidate needs 45 votes to win.

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