Rajya Sabha polls for 57 seats were held across 15 states. While 41 members in 11 states were elected unopposed, elections were held for 16 seats in four states on Friday due to the presence of more contestants than the available vacancies in each of these states.
The BJP managed to retain 22 of the 24 Rajya Sabha seats it held in the biennial polls and also ensured the victory of an independent, underlining its pull among unaffiliated legislators and disaffected lawmakers in opposition camp.
In an electoral college of around 10.86 lakh votes, the BJP-led alliance is estimated to have more than 48% of votes and is hopeful that non-aligned regional parties like the YSR Congress and the BJD will support it during the presidential election.
Dissension in Opposition
The BJP’s better-than-expected show have again highlighted dissension and lack of cohesion in the opposition ranks from Maharashtra to Karnataka and Haryana.
The party’s gamble to force a contest in these states besides Rajasthan by backing independents or putting its own candidates to benefit from division in the ranks of its rivals have paid dividends as it bagged one extra seat each in all states barring Rajasthan.
Congress veteran and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot not only managed to keep the flock of its supporting MLAs together but also embarrassed the BJP by wooing over one of its MLAs to foil the saffron party’s efforts to get an independent, outgoing MP and media entrepreneur Subhash Chandra, elected.
BJP sources said the party is pleased with the outcome, especially in Maharashtra where the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress suffered a setback despite being in power with the BJP bagging three of the six seats at stake.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said saffron party leader Devendra Fadnavis had succeeded in working the “miracle” of weaning away independent MLAs from rival camps using “different means”.
The BJP also bagged three of the four seats in Karnataka as its rivals the Congress and the JD(S) could not come to an agreement and fought separately and lost.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah on Saturday lauded Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai for the wins.
Modi hailed Bommai for his political strategy and acumen. “Your efforts were precious … This contribution from Karnataka will inspire further good work,” the statement quoted Modi as saying in appreciation of Bommai.
Meanwhile, Congress veteran Bhupinder Singh Hooda suffered a blow in Haryana as the party’s nominee Ajay Maken lost, with one of its MLAs, Kuldeep Bishnoi, voting for the BJP-backed independent Kartikeya Sharma, also a media entrepreneur, and the vote of another MLA turning out to be invalid.
Congress sources said that Bishnoi will be suspended from the party and that a letter will be written to the Speaker to get his membership cancelled from the Assembly.
(With inputs from PTI)