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BJP trumps opposition in 3 states, but party-backed media baron Subhash Chandra loses in Rajasthan

In Friday's Rajya Sabha elections, Congress suffered an embarrassing defeat in Haryana, where it's candidate, Ajay Maken, lost despite the party having 31 MLAs — the number required for his win.

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New Delhi: The BJP won eight of 16 Rajya Sabha seats that went to polls Friday, although it was left red-faced in Rajasthan with the party-backed Independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra losing, and a BJP MLA cross-voting.

The Congress suffered an embarrassing defeat in Haryana where it’s candidate, Ajay Maken, lost despite the party having 31 MLAs, exactly the number required for his win. Maken was defeated by another media baron and Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma, who was supported by the BJP and its ally, JJP.

Some of the big names to make it to the Rajya Sabha include the BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman, the Congress’ Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala, NCP’s Praful Patel and Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut.

Of the sixteen seats that went to polls across the four states of Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan Friday, the Congress managed to win just five, while it’s alliance partners in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena and the NCP, won one each.

The BJP securing wins for three of its candidates in Karnataka, though, would have made up for the Rajasthan disappointment as the opposition camp was split. Meanwhile, JD(S) MLA K. Srinivasa Gowda cross-voted, and openly declared that he “loves the Congress”. The Congress’ Jairam Ramesh got the lone seat for the party.

In Haryana, where things came down to the wire in a counting process that began post midnight, the Congress first declared that its candidate Ajay Maken had won his seat. However, right after, recounting was ordered for the said seat. Once that was done, the party was forced to take back its winning declaration, as it announced that Maken had lost “by a very very narrow margin” to media baron Kartikeya Sharma.

Despite his valiant efforts, Congress stalwart and former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda could not manage to see his party to victory. The battle was an uphill one for both Hooda and the Congress from the get-go, with Hooda’s detractor within the party, MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, declaring that he would cast a “conscience vote”.

The BJP also had much to celebrate in Maharashtra where it won three out of the total six seats that went to polls. The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, often in the news for differences among the allies, won three seats collectively — one for each party in the alliance.

The winning candidates here were BJP’s Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik, NCP’s Praful Patel, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, and Congress’ Imran Pratapgarhi.

Taking to Twitter after the party’s win, former BJP Chief Minister and leader of opposition in Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis hailed his party’s performance.

“Elections are contested not just for the fight, but the victory. Jai Maharashtra”, tweeted Fadnavis.

BJP’s general secretary in-charge for organisation, B.L. Santhosh said that the party’s performance in the state “exposed the chinks in the MVA government”.

“In an event filled day @BJP4India win 8 Rajya Sabha seats and an independent supported by party also won. With the win it also exposed the chinks in the MVA government puncturing many a egos & showed the mirror to so-called resurgent @INCIndia in Karnataka & Maharashtra (sic)”, said Santhosh in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the Congress’ ability to win the third seat in Rajasthan — contested by Pramod Tiwari — despite being short of the requisite numbers came as a shot in the arm for the ruling party in the state.

The final list of winners across the four states include Krishan Lal Panwar and Kartikeya Sharma from Haryana, Jairam Ramesh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Lehar Singh Siroya and Jaggesh in Karnataka, Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Surjewala, Pramod Tiwari and Ghanshyam Tiwari from Rajasthan and Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde, Dhananjay Mahadik, Praful Patel, Sanjay Raut and Imran Pratapgarhi from Maharashtra.

With the latest round of Rajya Sabha biennial elections — involving 57 seats, 41 of which didn’t see any contest — the BJP’s tally in the Upper House has come down marginally to 93, from the earlier 95, while the Congress’ tally remained 29.

Before polls, the BJP held 24 of these 57 seats. Its allies JD(U) and AIADMK, along with an independent (in Haryana) held five seats. In all, the BJP-led NDA held 29 of the 57 seats.

Of the 41 seats in which winners were declared unopposed, NDA won 17, UPA  10, and the non-aligned regional parties won 14 seats — TRS (2), YSRCP (4), BJD (3), AAP (2) and SP+ (3, including Kapil Sibal).

Of the 16 seats that went to polls Friday, the NDA previously held 11 — three in Maharashtra, two each in Karnataka and Haryana and all four in Rajasthan. The UPA held five — three in Maharashtra and two in Karnataka.

Results of the election to the Upper House of Parliament will be crucial in view of the Presidential elections, scheduled to be held on 18 July.

Also Read: 3 states, thrice the trouble: Why Congress struggles won’t end in Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan

Gehlot effect works

The split in the BJP camp in Rajasthan came to the fore with claims that Dholpur MLA Shobharani Kushwah, whose constituency falls in the stronghold of former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, allegedly cross-voted in favour of the Congress.

After the vote, Kushwah was suspended by the BJP, which gave her seven days to explain her decision, warning that her primary membership may be cancelled. However, she was expelled by the party later in the day.

The results came as a major boost for a faction-ridden Congress and will also strengthen Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s position in the party as demands for a change of guard are made by former deputy CM and party leader Sachin Pilot. The satrap came through for the Congress, managing 17 extra votes to help the party’s third candidate get elected. 

The other winning Congress candidates were Randeep Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik.

Late Friday, Gehlot took to Twitter and called the win a “victory for democracy”. 

Cliffhanger in two states

In Haryana, it was a prestige battle for Hooda, who was virtually handed the reins of the state unit earlier this year, with his close aide Udai Bhan being made chief of the state Congress.

The state unit had been tense as Congress MLA and Hooda detractor, Kuldeep Bishnoi, was non-committal about his vote before the election, and even refused to show his voting slip to the party after he cast his vote.

After Friday’s voting, independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma approached the Election Commission asking the poll panel to reject the votes of Congress MLAs Kiran Chaudhary and B.B. Batra on grounds of improper conduct. The Congress too approached the panel, contesting Sharma’s rejection plea. However, the EC later ruled that both votes were valid.

The Congress still did not manage to go past the winning mark after results were declared post 3am Saturday morning.

In Maharashtra, another state where counting continued till the early hours of Saturday morning, the BJP managed to win the crucial, hotly-contested sixth seat.

Though the MVA alliance pulled votes from smaller parties in the assembly like AIMIM and the Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar could not cross the line against BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik.

The vote of one Shiv Sena MLA, Suhas Kande, was rejected for improper conduct.

JD(S) draws a blank in Karnataka

In BJP-ruled Karnataka, it was a tightly fought battle for the fourth seat in the state, which saw a face-off between two opposition parties — the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress. 

In what seemed like an afterthought, the Congress fielded Mansoor Ali Khan as its candidate after it released its list with the name of another candidate. Before the polls, both parties tried to reach an amicable solution, asking for the other’s candidate to be withdrawn. However, they could not reach a consensus. 

Finally, the BJP managed to win that seat, and two others, leaving the Congress with just one seat and the JD(S) with none.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: How BJP is using Rajya Sabha and Maharashtra MLC polls to bring ‘MVA cracks’ to the fore


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