New Delhi: The BJP won 12 of the remaining 25 seats at stake in crucial Rajya Sabha biennial polls in seven states on Friday amid high drama in Uttar Pradesh where it clinched an extra ninth seat, overcoming the newfound bonhomie between former arch rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party BSP.
For the 59 Rajya Sabha seats to be filled, 33 candidates from 10 states were declared elected unopposed on March 15 with the BJP accounting for 16 of them.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP leader G.V.L. Narsimha Rao, the SP’s Jaya Bachchan (all from Uttar Pradesh), Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was backed by ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, and the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar (from Karnataka) were among the prominent winners.
Backed by the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, M.P, Veerendra Kumar, president of the Kerala unit of the Janata Dal (U) Sharad Yadav faction, was elected from Kerala, defeating his Congress rival in a bypoll after he resigned from the Rajya Sabha as a mark of protest following JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joining hands with BJP-led NDA.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the winners in the Rajya Sabha polls. “Congratulations to all those elected to the Rajya Sabha from various states and best wishes for their parliamentary career. I hope they effectively voice the aspirations of the states they will represent,” he tweeted.
There was a two-hour delay in the counting of votes in UP as the opposition Samajwadi Party and BSP lodged a complaint with the Election Commission.
Besides Jaitley, others who made it to the Upper House of Parliament from the BJP are Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and ninth candidate, businessman Anil Kumar Agarwal, who pulled off a surprise win with the help of second preference votes.
The remaining seat went to the Samajwadi Party (Jaya Bachchan) in the polls marred by cross-voting from both the sides, which led to the defeat of BSP candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar in the prestigeous battle of ballots, touted as a test for the new found bonhomie between the parties headed by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.
The Rajya Sabha results came days after the BJP lost the Lok Sabha bypolls to Gorakhpur and Phulpur to a joint force of the SP and the BSP.
The BJP’s Sameer Uranv and the Congress’s Dheeraj Sahu won the two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand, returning officer Vinay Singh said.
In West Bengal, Singhvi and four Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidates – Nadimul Haque, Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santunu Sen – won the Rajya Sabha election.
The TMC supported Singhvi, who contested as the fifth candidate as the Congress did not have the strength in the assembly to get its candidate elected.
The Left Front-backed CPI(M) candidate Rabin Deb lost the poll. Contesting for the fifth seat, he polled much less than the others.
The ruling Congress in Karnataka bagged three Rajya Sabha seats and the BJP one in the biennial election, amid a boycott of the poll by the JDS, alleging electoral malpractice.
The Congress’s L. Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and G.C. Chandrasekhar, and the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrashekar were declared elected after a complaint by the JD(S) to the Election Commission caused a delay in taking up counting of votes.
With its strength in the assembly, the Congress was sure of winning two seats and eyed the third seat and won it with the support of JDS rebels and independents.
The fight was for the third seat between the third candidate of the Congress – Chandrasekhar – and the JDS’s B.M. Farooq, with the ruling party pulling off a bonus victory.
In Telangana, TRS candidates B. Prakash, B. Lingaiah Yadav and J. Santosh Kumar were elected to the Rajya Sabha.
The nominee of the main opposition Congress, P. Balaram, lost the election.
BJP national general secretary Saroj Pandey won the lone Rajya Sabha seat for which polling was held in Chhattisgarh, defeating Congress rival Lekhram Sahu.
The state assembly currently has 49 BJP MLAs, 39 Congress legislators, one BSP member and an independent legislator.
Pandey seems to have got all 49 votes of her party MLAs and apparently two more votes from BSP and independent legislators.
Sahu bagged 36 votes as the three Congress legislators – Amit Jogi, Shiyaram Kaushik and Rajendra Rai – who are facing disciplinary action for anti-party activities, boycotted the polls and did not vote.
While Jogi was expelled from the Congress in 2016, Kaushik and Rai were suspended from the party last year.
According to officials, Jogi, Kaushik and Rai are still considered Congress members in the state assembly.