Rajya Sabha win: BJP gets a shot in the arm before presidential polls

Rajya Sabha win: BJP gets a shot in the arm before presidential polls

Winning support from independents and through cross-voting, successfully challenging the validity of votes, and benefiting from internal dissension in its rivals, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) succeeded in its bid to get extra seats in the Rajya Sabha from Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra after a nail-biting contest.

It could not get an extra seat from Rajasthan.

With the gains made in the current round of elections, the party has proved its ability to convince smaller parties and independents to swing votes in its favour. This comes as a shot in the arm for the party ahead of the impending presidential and vice-presidential elections.

For the upcoming presidential election on July 18, the NDA government is short of the required majority mark by a little less than 20,000 votes. It is banking on support from allies such as the AIADMK and friendly parties that are not part of the NDA such as the BJD and YSRCP apart from independents and smaller parties.

Friday’s outcome has also given a boost to the party in Maharashtra where it managed to wrest an extra seat, outgunning the ruling MVA by getting 17 of the 29 legislators from smaller outfits and independents to back its bid for the extra seat. Apart from union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik were elected to the Upper House from Maharashtra.

The party made good on its promise to win three seats in Karnataka and an extra seat in Haryana. While Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Jaggesh and Lehar Singh Siroya were elected in Karnataka, in Haryana, the party added two seats to its tally.

In Rajasthan and Haryana, where the party had enough votes for the election of one candidate, the party sprung a surprise by backing Subhash Chandra and Kartikeya Sharma, both media entrepreneurs who filed their nominations as independents. While Sharma won, Chandra, who earlier represented Haryana in the Upper House (he was backed by the BJP), lost.

In Rajasthan, the BJP faced embarrassment, after its legislator, Sobharani Kushwaha was served a show-cause notice by the party for cross-voting.

The incident has again brought to the fore the internal divisions in the party in Rajasthan as a section of leaders blamed former CM Vasundhara Raje for the cross-voting. Kushwaha is considered close to Raje, a leader said.

In Rajasthan, 41 votes were required to win a single seat and the Congress had the numbers to win two and the BJP one. With 30 surplus votes, the BJP could not make up for the shortfall by getting 11 more votes for the fourth candidate.

In Karnataka, the party gained from the differences that cropped up between the Congress and the JDS. A party leader said the negotiations to garner votes for the third seat paid off. The leader did not give specific details about the cross-voting. The BJP with 121 legislators was expected to win two seats and Congress one, and a tight contest was expected for the fourth seat. The party won eight of the 16 Rajya Sabha seats that went to polls. It won three seats in Karnataka and Maharashtra, one in Haryana, and one in Rajasthan. And in Haryana, an independent backed by it won.

The BJP’s strength in the Upper House will now be 95 (including the independent). On June 3, the party added 14 members to its tally when 41 nominees across parties were elected to the Upper House unopposed. Of the total 57 vacancies, of which 24 were from the BJP, the party has reclaimed 23 (including the independent).



    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

Vijay Singh

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