Amid wrangling by rival parties over alleged breach of voting rules, war of words and cross-voting, the Rajya Sabha polls have turned out to be closer than what was anticipated.
If Congress managed to snub BJP in Rajasthan, then in Maharashtra, the ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress suffered a humiliating defeat.
There is no official word on the results as yet.
The ruling Congress on Friday won three of the four Rajya Sabha seats in Rajasthan, overcoming the challenge posed by BJP-backed independent candidate Subhash Chandra, the party has claimed. The BJP won three of the four Rajya Sabha seats.
The BJP got the fourth seat. Its candidate and former minister Ghanshyam Tiwari said he had also won, polling 43 votes.
Congress candidates Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari were elected to the Rajya Sabha, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced.
Gehlot said he had earlier said that Congress candidates would win. The chief minister also thanked BJP MLA Shobharani Kushwah for cross-voting in favour of Congress candidate Pramod Tiwari.
The BJP has suspended Kushwah from the party’s primary membership.
“When everybody knows that 126 MLAs are with us, why did they field an independent candidate? They wanted to attempt horse-trading but that did not happen,” Gehlot said.
He came out of the Assembly with the newly elected Congress MPs, flashing a victory sign.
“I believe all the three leaders will raise issues of Rajasthan, particularly the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) which will solve water problem in 13 districts,” the chief minister said. The victory of the Congress candidates has given a strong message in the country, he said, adding that the party would retain power in the Assembly elections next year.
“The solidarity of our MLAs has given a befitting reply to this effort. The BJP will face a defeat in the 2023 Assembly elections as well,” he added.
Setback for ruling alliance in Maharashtra
In a major setback to Maharashtra’s ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday won three of the six Rajya Sabha seats.
The BJP winners include Union minister Piyush Goyal and former state minister Anil Bonde, and Dhananjay Mahadik.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, NCP’s Praful Patel and Congress’s Imran Pratapgarhi also won the fiercely-fought elections.
Of the 284 valid votes, Goyal polled 48, Bonde 48, Mahadik 41.56, Raut 41, Pratapgarhi 44 and Patel 43.
The contest was for the sixth seat — the BJP had fielded former MP Dhananjay Mahadik and the Shiv Sena candidate was Sanjay Pawar, who lost. Mahadik and Pawar hail from Kolhapur in western Maharashtra.
The high-stake battle for the sixth turned out to be a nail-biting affair with the Congress and BJP trading charges, even approaching the Election Commission.
“Elections are contested not just for the fight, but the victory. Jai Maharashtra,” tweeted BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, whose refusal to have a consensus candidate for the Rajya Sabha led to elections in the state after 24 years.
The counting of votes started after an eight-hour delay amid complaints of cross voting and rules violation by the BJP and the ruling alliance.
Both BJP and the Shiv Sena approached the Election Commission, alleging cross voting and seeking disqualification of votes.
The poll panel directed the Rajya Sabha election returning officer of Maharashtra to reject the vote cast by Shiv Sena legislator Suhas Kande, after which the counting of votes got underway after 1 am. The first result was out in two hours.
After the stunning setback, Congress leaders admitted shortcomings in coordination in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat told reporters in Vidhan Bhavan that it is a matter of study as to what went wrong.
”BJP was cunning in holding up the counting and getting one vote invalid. We were confident that all four of our candidates would win comfortably,” the Congress leader said.
Imran Pratapgarhi, the victorious Congress candidate said he was happy with his win but the defeat of Shiv Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar was unfortunate.
NCP leader Praful Patel said he will continue to make sure the concerns of Maharashtra are heard and addressed.
”A huge thank you to all my supporters and well wishers for electing me to serve as the Rajya Sabha Member of the Parliament. I express my heartfelt gratitude to Hon’ble Pawar Saheb and NCP for entrusting me with this responsibility,” he tweeted.
Big win for BJP in Karnataka
In an emphatic endorsement for the BJP in Karnataka, the ruling party had the last laugh as it won all the three Rajya Sabha seats it contested out of the four that went to polls.
The main Opposition Congress managed to win only one of the two seats for which its nominees were in the fray, while the JD(S) drew a blank.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, actor-politician Jaggesh, and MLC Lehar Singh Siroya of the BJP, and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress were declared victorious. Sitharaman and Ramesh have been re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.
There was suspense over the outcome of the fight for the fourth seat, which witnessed a tight contest between all the three major political parties none of which had enough votes for an easy win. However, BJPs Siroya triumphed over Mansoor Ali Khan of the Congress and D Kupendra Reddy (JDS), apparently aided by cross-voting from rival parties and the help of Independents.
(With Agency inputs)