BJP takes Rajya Sabha battle to the Opposition, fields additional candidates to upset alliances
The BJP’s move to contest more seats than it is certain of winning is to upset the math of its rivals, and possibly drive a wedge between potential alliances in some states.india Updated: Mar 13, 2018 07:09 IST
The March 23 Rajya Sabha elections suddenly became more interesting with the Bharatiya Janata Party deciding to contest more seats than it is certain of winning, leveraging its excess votes and hoping that it can sway dissidents from some of the other parties to vote for its candidates.
Thus, it is looking for a ninth seat in Uttar Pradesh (where it is assured of 8), a fourth in
Maharashtra (where it is assured of three), and a third in Gujarat (where it is assured of two).
The BJP’s aggression is certain to upset the math of its rivals, and possibly drive a wedge between potential alliances in some states.
Interestingly, the BJP’s push for an extra Rajya Sabha seat in UP came even as Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal joined the saffron party after being denied another term in the Rajya Sabha by his own party. One of his aides Anil Agrawal is contesting the ninth seat in the state as a BJP candidate.
Naresh Agrawal said his son, a member of the UP assembly, would vote in favour of the BJP in the coming Rajya Sabha elections.
The BJP’s aggression is based on the surplus votes it has in each state.
In Uttar Pradesh, where a Rajya Sabha candidate needs 37 votes to be elected, the BJP has 311 members (324 for the NDA). Of this, 296 votes will get 8 candidates elected. That leaves it with 18 extra votes. Party leaders say, on this basis, they need 10 more votes. They are hoping Naresh Agrawal’s “contacts” in other parties will help.
Interestingly, Anil Agrawal is one of the three candidates the BJP fielded on Monday, which means it has 11 candidates for nine seats.
It is likely two will withdraw and that Anil Agrawal will fight it out for the ninth seat.
In Gujarat, where the BJP is assured of two of its candidates winning, it has fielded a third, former state minister Kiritsinh Rana. The Congress is confident of winning two seats but the BJP hopes it can leave the former with only one.
Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said his party has fielded an extra candidate to benefit from “discontentment from some Congress” legislators over the selection of the party’s own Rajya Sabha candidates. A Rajya Sabha candidate from Gujarat needs 38 votes to be elected. The BJP has 99 members in the house. That leaves it with 23 extra votes.
The BJP’s aggression is “Amit Shah’s style of politics,” a party leader said on condition of anonymity. “We are short in the Rajya Sabha and it is natural that we try and win every extra seat,” this person added.
The NDA currently has 83 members in the 245-member Rajya Sabha, with the BJP alone having 58 seats (there are seven vacancies in the house).
It is expected to have at least 92 members after the elections to the 59 seats across 17 states on March 23, but it could end up with a few more if its gambit of going for bust works.
Indeed, the BJP is chancing its luck even in Maharashtra where it has no surplus votes.
In the state, where a candidate for the Rajya Sabha needs 42 votes to win, the BJP has 122 members in the house and can ensure the victory of three candidates. It has fielded Vijaya Rahatkar, the chairperson of the State Women Commission as its fourth candidate. “The strategy about the fourth candidate will be revealed at the appropriate time,” BJP state chief Raosaheb Danve said. The BJP has an uneasy relationship with its long-term ally the Shiv Sena, which has 63 members in the house, leaving it with a surplus of 21 after having one of its candidates elected. A Shiv Sena member said the BJP can’t take its support for granted.