NEW DELHI, Jun 20
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Demo-cratic Alliance (NDA) headed towards a majority in the Rajya Sabha as the ruling alliance won 10 out of the 19 seats that went to polls on Friday. The BJP had already bagged three of the five uncontested seats of which the results were declared earlier. The BJP on Friday won three seats in Gujarat, two in Madhya Pradesh and one each in Manipur, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Mizoram. The BJP has already bagged two seats in Karnataka and one in Arunachal Pradesh.
The increase in the NDA’s tally in the Rajya Sabha is crucial as its impact will be visible in the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament. Although the Narendra Modi Government has managed to push contentious laws despite lack of majority in the Upper House, an increased tally will surely boost the NDA and its legislative agenda. Following the elections, the current strength of Rajya Sabha will go up to 244, of which BJP has 86 members and the NDA’s tally goes beyond 100. The Congress has 41 while others have 27. The strength of the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha has been a challenge for the ruling BJP which otherwise dominates the Lok Sabha given its brute majority since 2014.
Voting was held for 19 seats spread across eight states — Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jhar-khand, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram, amid all precautionary measures in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. Social distancing was followed and entry of the MLAs allowed after thermal screening and wearing of masks.
Two MLAs in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan who were in quarantine turned up in PPE gear at their respective state assemblies to take part in the democratic exercise. As a precautionary measure, the election commission gave individual pens to the legislators for marking their votes.
Of the three seats in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling BJP bagged two seats and the Congress won one seat. In Congress-ruled Rajasthan, the grand old party candidates emerged victorious in two seats while the opposition BJP settled with one seat. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) won one seat in Jharkhand and so did the BJP while the candidates of the ruling alliances won in Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
Manipur – BJP 1 seat
Election in Manipur was interesting as polling took place in the backdrop of the resignations of three ruling BJP MLAs and six others withdrawing support from the Biren Singh government. Despite being in the grip of a political crisis, the ruling BJP pulled out a stunning win with its candidate and the state’s titular king L Sanajaoba defeating veteran T Mangi Babu of the Congress. Sanajaoba received 28 votes while Babu got 24.
Sanajaoba’s win is a major boost to the ruling BJP-led coalition in the state which was on a sticky wicket after the rebellion of nine MLAs. Three BJP MLAs of the nine, who have resigned from the House and primary membership of the party, did not cast their votes. Four National People’s Party (NPP) ministers, who had withdrawn their support to the ruling coalition, have, however, exercised their franchise. Lone Trinamool Congress MLA T Robindro Singh, who also pulled out of the N Biren Singh-led dispensation, also did not cast his vote. Three Congress defectors — Ksh Biren Singh, S Bira Singh, Surchandra Singh were not allowed to cast their votes as cases are pending against them. One recently disqualified MLA was also barred from taking part in the voting process.
Gujarat – BJP 3, Cong 1
In Gujarat, the BJP retained its dominance as it won three of the four seats. The Congress won only one seat. The counting process was delayed due to objections raised by the Congress. The Congress was demanding from the ECI to declare as invalid the two BJP votes on different grounds. The Congress sought cancellation of votes cast by BJP MLA Kesrisinh Solanki and minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. However, the ECI rejected the demand, upholding the report given by the election observer.
Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramilaben Bara and Narhari Amin of the BJP and Shaktisinh Gohil of the Congress were declared winners.
Rajasthan – Cong 2, BJP 1
In Rajasthan, the ruling Congress won two out of the three seats. While KC Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi were declared elected, BJP’s Rajendra Gehlot won comfortably. The saffron party’s second candidate Onkar Singh Lakhawat was defeated.
With this, the number of Congress’s Rajya Sabha MPs from Rajasthan has increased to 3, out of total 10, and rest 7 seats are held by the BJP.
MP– BJP 2, Congress 1
Former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh and BJP candidates Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sumer Singh Solanki won from Madhya Pradesh. The Congress’s other candidate, Dalit leader Phool Singh Barriya, lost the election.
Meghalaya – MDA 1 seat
The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance candidate Wanwei Roy Kharlukhi won the lone seat in the state. Roy defeated Congress candidate Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem by a margin of 20 votes.
MDA partner KHNAM’s MLA Adelbert Nongrum abstained from voting to express his dissent against the NPP whose Lok Sabha MP Agatha K Sangma had voted in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Parliament whereas the party in the state opposed it. One vote was found to be invalid.
Mizoram – Mizo National Front 1 seat
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) won the lone Rajya Sabha seat in the state. K Vanlalvena secured 27 votes out of the 39 polled to defeat his arch rival B Lalchhanzova of main opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) who got only the seven votes of his party MLAs. Congress nominee Lallianchunga could managed only five votes.
The Rajya Sabha Elections were originally scheduled for March 26, but couldn’t take place in view of the COVID pandemic.
The ECI had in February announced election for 55 seats spread across 17 states. While 37 candidates were declared unopposed, polling for remaining 18 seat was deferred by the ECI. The ECI later announced polling for 6 more seats — Karnataka (4 seats), Arunachal Pradesh (1 seat) and Mizoram (1 seat). Polling in Karnataka and Arunachal didn’t take place it was an unanimous affair.