BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik prevailed against ruling MVA candidate Sanjay Pawar of Shiv Sena, while saffron-backed Independent Kartikeya Sharma, brother of Manu Sharma who was convicted in the Jessica Lal murder case, managed to get the better of Congress’s nominee, Rahul Gandhi-loyalist Ajay Maken in Haryana.
The twin victories along with the similar ones achieved in Karnataka more than compensated the failure of saffron-backed Independent candidate Subhash Chandra in Rajasthan on Friday.
With BJP bagging 22 of the 57 seats that went to polls, the strength of the ruling party in the Upper House of Parliament now stands at 92, three less than what it had before the biennial polls. But it can add to its tally by filling up the seven vacant nominated seats. Along with ally JDU and the indirect support of two regional outfits, BJD and YSR Congress, it can comfortably achieve the majority mark in the fights over bills.
Congress’s tally marginally improved — from 29 to 31, a poor consolation award for the party which had enjoyed hegemonic influence for decades.
The victory of BJP’s Mahadik in Maharashtra was facilitated by the tactical nous of former BJP CM Devendra Fadnavis, who won over crucial independents and members of smaller parties to trump the MVA for the crucial sixth seat. In short, Fadnavis-led BJP managed to get three, the same as MVA, despite having a smaller contingent.
The feat, which had looked improbable until the end, attracted allegations of horse trading and use of money power. But there was also admiration, most notably from Sharad Pawar, a veteran of such battles who outwitted Congress in 1998 to get Sonia Gandhi’s candidate Ram Pradhan defeated.
Speaking to media after the nail-biting finish, Fadnavis responded to the charge of horse-trading and BJP benefiting from the EC’s “bias”, saying BJP would have won even if Sena MLA Suhas Kande’s vote had been allowed and two of NCP’s jailed MLAs, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, were allowed to vote.
The defeat of the Sena candidate on Udhav Thackeray’s charge comes just ahead of the polls for the Legislative Council and underlines the challenge facing MVA in a contest which will be, unlike the RS polls, determined by secret ballot. It is also a shot in arm for BJP, which seeks to end Sena’s control over the BMC.
Within the saffron party, Fadnavis’s success has vividly and starkly underscored his pre-eminence. With questions swirling about the effectiveness of co-ordination among the ruling coalition partners, the MVA managers now have a task facing them.
The defeat of Maken did not come as a huge surprise because of Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi’s rebellion, lack of enthusiasm among section of Congress over Maken’s candidature, Kartikeya Sharma’s resourcefulness and the fact that he was assured of BJP’s surplus (11) belonging to Dushyant Chautala’s JJP.
Surprisingly, Congress failed to persuade independent MLA Balraj Kundu to vote.
Among regional parties, Andhra Pradesh’s YSR-Congress also increased its tally from six to nine seats, while Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), now ruling both Delhi and Punjab, went up to 10 seats in the Rajya Sabha.
Regional parties including DMK, BJD, TRS, JDU, NCP and Shiv Sena maintained the status quo on their numbers, retaining the same number of seats as their nominees that retired. While DMK has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha, BJD has nine, TRS has seven, JDU has five, NCP has four and Shiv Sena four.
The strength of TMC and CPM also remained the same at 13 and five, respectively. AIADMK, which has five members in the House of Elders fell one spot to four after two of its three members could be re-elected. Samajwadi Party’s strength also fell from five at present to three in the RS after it backed independent candidate Kapil Sibal and RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary. RJD improved its tally by one, raising the current strength in the upper house from five to six.
Bahujan Samaj Party, on the other hand, will now have only one member in the upper house, down from three. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which had a single MP in Rajya Sabha, will now have one more, while Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), with two members has now drawn a blank since both of its members in the Rajya Sabha will retire next month.
Among the prominent names that are set to be re-elected include Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal, former ministers and Congress MPs P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh, Kapil Sibal with SP support, Misa Bharti of the RJD, Praful Patel (NCP) and Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena).
Congress’s new faces include communications chief Randeep Surjewala and Imran Pratapgarhi, while Mukul Wasnik, Rajeev Shukla, Ranjeet Ranjan and Pramod Tiwari have been MPs in the past.
Winners from UP include Jayant Chaudhary (RLD), Javed Ali Khan (SP), and BJP MPs Darshana Singh, Babu Ram Nishad, Mithilesh Kumar, Radha Mohan Dal Agarwal, K Laxman, Laxmikant Bajpai, Surendra Singh Nagar, and Sangeeta Yadav. All five candidates from Bihar have been elected unopposed. These include Misa Bharti and Faiyaz Ahmed (RJD), Satish Chandra Dubey and Shambhu Sharan Patel (BJP), and Kheeru Mahto (JDU).
YSRCP’s V Vijayasai Reddy, Beeda Masthan Rao, R Krishnaiah and S Niranjan Reddy were elected unopposed from Andhra Pradesh, taking the party’s tally to nine seats in Rajya Sabha. Of the 11 seats from the southern state, TDP and BJP have one MP each.