The stage is set for a contest in Rajya Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana even as union ministers Piyush Goyal and Suresh Prabhu, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and all six nominees of AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu were elected unopposed.
As the deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended, absorbing battles are expected in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where the success of Congress nominees Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha, a Supreme Court lawyer, could be decided by the stand of BSP which had bailed out the Congress government in Uttarakhand in the floor test on the floor of the Assembly.
In Madhya Pradesh where polling will be held for three seats, ruling BJP’s MJ Akbar and senior party strategist Anil Madhav Dave are set to win but the party’s third candidate Vinod Gotia, who has filed as an Independent candidate, can make things difficult for Vivek Tankha. BJP has 166 seats in the 23-member MP Assembly.
With 57 seats, Congress is short of just one vote to win the polls while BJP needs eight extra votes to ensure the victory of Gotia. That makes BSP’s four MLAs crucial for Gotia.
In Uttar Pradesh, contest was forced by the presence of 12 candidates for the 11 Rajya Sabha seats as the two extra aspirants remained in fray at the end of withdrawal today.
The contest became interesting after Independent candidate Preeti Mahapatra, a social worker, filed her papers at the last moment as the 12th candidate for the 11 seats going to polls next week, thereby forcing voting.
Several BJP MLAs and members of smaller parties besides some Independents have signed Preeti’s nominations, raising the possibility of cross-voting.
Congress has accused Preeti of being a BJP candidate who could encourage horse-trading that might queer the pitch of Sibal who needs five extra votes for victory. Congress has 29 MLAs and each candidate needs 34 votes for Rajya Sabha win.
This is where the role of BSP’s surplus votes will matter.
A contest is also imminent in Karnataka where five candidates, including Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and senior Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes, are vying for four Rajya Sabha seats.
Besides Ramesh and Fernandes, the state’s ruling Congress has fielded former IPS officer Ramamurthy, giving anxious time to JD(S) which needs five additional votes to see its candidate B M Farooq through as it has 40 members. The required strength for victory is 45 votes.
To JD-S’ discomfiture, five of its MLAs, including Zameer Ahmed, have reportedly decided to back the third candidate of Congress which is sure of two seats but falls short of numbers for the third candidate.