Upcoming Rajya Sabha Polls to See Unusually Tight Contest Between BJP, Opposition

BJP's aggression and willingness in making the most out of dissent within ruling coalition ranks in states like Maharashtra has turned this tame affair into one of much drama.

New Delhi: The upcoming elections in Rajya Sabha on March 26 could see a tight contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition parties in at least three seats, one each in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand. 

According to a report in the Indian Express, of the 55 seats up for contest, BJP currently has 15 seats, and expects to definitely win 13. 

“The party (BJP) has the required number of legislators to win one from Himachal Pradesh, one of the two seats in Haryana, one of the three seats in Rajasthan, one of the five seats in Bihar, three of the seven seats in Maharashtra, one of the three seats in Madhya Pradesh, two of the four seats in Gujarat, three seats in Assam, and one each from Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur,” says the report, while adding that it may also fill the long vacant seat for a nominated member. 

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However, party sources say that they were looking to increase their tally to at least 17-18 seats in the upcoming polls.

They said that the party was hoping to pull in some dissenting MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling Congress on Wednesday prevented a coup of sorts. Eight MLAs who support the Kamal Nath government in the state were seen huddling together at a Gurugram hotel recently. Congress alleged that BJP was attempting to engineer defections but that it had ultimately managed to ‘rescue’ six legislators from the hotel. 

Similarly, the saffron party is looking to wrest two other seats in Maharashtra and Jharkhand by encashing on possible disenchantment among the ruling coalition’s MLAs. 

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A BJP leader said, “The BJP is sure of winning one seat in Madhya Pradesh, but we have not given up on a second seat too.” Aggression shown by the BJP has turned the Rajya Sabha polls from a routine exercise into a tight affair. 

The Trinamool Congress and YSR Congress Party are expected to win four seats each in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

In an interesting development, Congress told the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that it could support it if the Left party nominates Sitaram Yechury to the Rajya Sabha. The CPI(M) has finally rejected Yechury’s nomination after his tenure ended in 2017, after intense discussions. The party decided that it would stick to its rule of not nominating a leader to the Rajya Sabha for two consecutive times. 

The Biju Janata Dal with 113 MLAs in the 147-member Odisha assembly looks set to win all the three seats from the state. “As one candidate requires 30 first-preference votes to win the election, the BJP, which has 23 members in the Assembly, hopes that the BJD offers it the required support to elect one of its candidates,” the newspaper reported. 

Any gain for the BJP in the Upper House will prove to be crucial in the coming years. Currently, with 97 MPs out of 245 in the Rajya Sabha, it relies on regional parties to get the Modi government’s key bills passed.