New Delhi: Elections for 19 Rajya Sabha seats spread across eight states will be held Friday with the contest in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan promising to be a close affair between the BJP and the Congress. Voting for 18 seats was deferred due to the coronavirus pandemic. Later the Election Commission announced polls for four seats in Karnataka and one seat each in Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Of the 19 seats where polling will be held, four each are from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand, and one each from Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
The election in Manipur is also likely to be interesting following the resignation of nine members of the ruling coalition and the opposition Congress pressing for a no-confidence motion against the N Biren Singh government. The BJP has fielded Leisemba Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur, while the Congress nominee is T Mangi Babu.
In Karnataka, where elections were to be held for four seats, all the candidates – former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, BJP candidates Iranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti — have been declared elected unopposed. BJP nominee Nabam Rebia was also elected unopposed to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Arunachal Pradesh.
The counting of votes for all the 19 seats will be held on the evening of June 19 itself, the Election Commission said.
Legislators vote to elect candidates for the Upper House of Parliament.
The Election Commission (EC) has made elaborate arrangements for the voting keeping in mind the coronavirus pandemic. Every voter (MLA) will be screened for body temperature and will have use mask and adhere to social distancing norms. Legislators having a fever or showing other symptoms will be kept in a separate waiting room.
With many MLAs switching sides, the past few months have seen parties indulging in ‘resort politics’ to keep their flock together. Several MLAs have been lodged in resorts to stop them from ‘poaching’ by rival factions.
In Gujarat, the contest is likely to go down to the wire as both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress do not have absolute numbers in the Assembly to get all their candidates win on their own.
The BJP has fielded three candidates – Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin for the four seats, while the Congress, which has seen desertions in its legislative ranks, has given tickets to two nominees Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.
The BJP, with its current numbers in the 182-member Assembly, can win two seats, while the Congress on the basis of its House strength can bag one. A tough fight is expected for the fourth seat. Notwithstanding their respective numbers, both the parties have expressed hope that all their candidates will sail through.
Both the BJP and the Congress have fielded two candidates each for the three seats in Madhya Pradesh. While the BJP’s candidates are former Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sumer Singh Solanki, the Congress has named Digvijaya Singh and Dalit leader Phool Singh Baraiya.
In the 230-member assembly, the BJP currently has 107 MLAs and also enjoys the support of two legislators of the Bahujan Samaj Party, one of the Samajwadi Party and two Independents, while the opposition Congress has 92 MLAs. Currently, the effective strength of the House is 206, as 24 seats are lying vacant.
While the BJP is expected to win two seats and the Congress one seat, the fight will be for the fourth slot.
In Rajasthan, both the ruling Congress and opposition BJP have lodged their legislators in different hotels after accusing each other of poaching MLAs.
For the three seats up for grabs, four candidates (two from Congress and as many from BJP) have filed nomination papers. The Congress has nominated KC Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi, while the BJP has fielded Rajendra Gehlot and Onkar Singh Lakhawat.
In the house of 200, the Congress has 107 MLAs and has the support of independent MLAs and legislators of other parties like Rashtriya Lok Dal, CPI (M) and Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP).
The ruling party has more than enough majority to win two seats and the opposition BJP, which has 72 MLAs and support of three Rashtriya Loktantrik Party MLAs, has the numbers to comfortably win one seat.