The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday won eight out of the 16 vacant seats of the Rajya Sabha. The Congress, along with allies in Maharashtra, bagged the remaining seven. An Independent candidate backed by the saffron party also secured one seat.
Fifty-seven seats in the Upper House across 15 states will fall vacant between June 21 and August 1. However, 41 candidates in 11 states have won unopposed. This left 16 seats to be filled in the Upper House through elections.
Voting for the vacant seats of the Rajya Sabha began earlier on Friday at 9 am and ended at 4 pm. Six seats were vacant in Maharashtra, four each in Rajasthan and Karnataka and two in Haryana.
The counting of votes was halted in Maharashtra and Haryana after the Congress and the BJP approached the Election Commission, alleging that protocols were violated.
However, after a late-night count, the BJP won three seats in Maharashtra, while the Congress, along with the Shiv Sena and the National Congress Party, managed to win one seat each.
In Haryana, the BJP managed to win one seat, while an Independent candidate backed by the saffron party won another.
In Rajasthan, the ruling Congress won three of the four Rajya Sabha seats. The BJP grabbed the last seat.
In Karnataka, the BJP won all the three Rajya Sabha seats it had contested, while one went to the Congress.
While the BJP managed to get all of its three candidates elected, the Shiv Sena suffered a setback as it could only manage to get Sanjay Raut elected. Its second candidate Sanjay Pawar lost, The Indian Express reported.
Among those to win from the BJP included Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik.
The Congress’ lone candidate Imran Pratapgadi and senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel also won.
On Saturday, Raut alleged that the BJP pressured the Election Commission to get his party’s one vote of MLA Suhas Kande disqualified, PTI reported.
“We had petitioned to make their votes invalid, but the Election Commission sided with them,” he alleged. “What has happened in Maharashtra, Haryana and Rajasthan raise question marks on the [functioning of] Election Commission.”
The Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance had fallen into a tight spot after Nationalist Congress Party leaders Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, who are in jail, were not granted temporary bail to vote.
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, however, said that Malik’s and Deshmukh’s votes would have made no difference, The Indian Express reported.
“Even if the court had allowed Malik and Deshmukh to vote or held Kande’s vote as valid, it would not have made any impact on the electoral outcome of BJP,” Fadnavis said.
BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman, actor Jaggesh and Karnataka MLC Lahar Singh Siroya won three out of the four seats. “They got more votes than the allotted ones, people from the other party helped us,” BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi said.
Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress secured the other seat. A total of six candidates were in the fray for the Rajya Sabha polls to the four seats.
HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), which had fielded one candidate despite not having enough votes, failed to get even a single seat as the Congress did not accept its request.
Siroya, Mansoor Ali Khan of the Congress and D Kupendra Reddy, the lone candidate of the Janata Dal (Secular), had contested the fourth seat.
Sitharaman and Ramesh have been re-elected from Karnataka to the Upper House of Parliament for a consecutive term after their victory.
The Congress candidates who won in Rajasthan are Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari. Former minister Ghanshyam Tiwari secured one seat for the BJP in the state, but media baron Subhash Chandra, an Independent candidate backed by the party, lost.
“I am thankful to the state and the central leadership for making me the candidate,” Tiwari said after the results, according to PTI. “I got 43 votes.”
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the BJP will face a similar defeat in the Assembly polls next year.
On Saturday, BJP’s central disciplinary committee issued show-cause notice to MLA Shobharani Kushwaha for cross-voting, reported ANI. The party had suspended her from the party on Friday.
In Haryana, BJP’s Krishan Lal Panwar and Kartikeya Sharma, an Independent candidate backed by the saffron party, secured both the seats. Congress’ Ajay Maken lost.
The Congress suffered the setback as Adampur MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi did not vote for Maken, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said.
“All the Congress MLAs cast their votes by showing it to their election agent,” Khattar said. “I am sure Kuldeep Bishnoi also must have done that. Yet, it is welcome that he supported our candidate and voted listening to his inner conscience. He has shown faith in the principles and policies of the BJP.”
One Congress vote was rejected, according to The Indian Express. However, it was not clear whose vote it was.
Rajya Sabha polls
The Rajya Sabha has 245 members, of which 12 are nominated by the president and 233 are elected through a voting process.
Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and cannot be dissolved. So, in order to ensure that the House runs perpetually, one-third of its members retire after every second year. Biennial elections are then held to fill these vacancies. A Rajya Sabha MP is chosen for six years.
Vacancies that arise after someone resigns, dies or is disqualified are filled up through bye-polls.
The elections to the Rajya Sabha are important as all the Bills, except the Money Bills, have to pass through both the Houses to become a law. No party has ever secured the majority of 123 seats, reported The Indian Express.
In April, the BJP become the first party to cross the 100 mark but its strength is now down to 95 as five of its nominated members are retiring.