Veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and BJP candidate Jyotiraditya Scindia. (File)
BJP candidates Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sumer Singh Solanki, and veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, were voted in to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh on Friday in an election that threw up no major surprises.
Scindia’s entry into the Upper House came nearly three months after he precipitated the collapse of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state.
Before Scindia’s rebellion, the then ruling Congress was poised to win two seats. The resignations of 22 Congress MLAs, most of them Scindia loyalists, reduced the party’s numbers to 92, enabling the BJP to not only return to power after 15 months but also increase its tally in the upper house. The Congress had 114 members in March when the elections for three seats were announced. The BJP had 107 MLAs. Four Independents, one SP and two BSP members who had extended support to the Congress government switched their allegiance to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The second BJP candidate to get elected on Friday, Solanki, is an RSS activist and former assistant professor.
Digvijaya Singh and Phool Singh Baraiya, the other Congress candidate, got 93 votes, one more than the party’s tally—one BJP member cross-voted. The former Chief Minister got 57 first preference votes while Scindia and Solanki got 56 and 55 votes each. At 111 first preference votes, the BJP said it got four more votes than its tally of 107. One vote was rejected.
Baraiya, a Dalit leader from Gwalior-Chambal belt, got 36 votes. The Congress had fielded him with an eye on the upcoming by-elections to 24 seats. Most of these seats fall in the Gwalior-Chambal belt where the Congress had done very well in the 2018 assembly elections.
The grand old party had tapped into the unrest among the Dalit community over a Supreme Court ruling in 2018. which had been seen as a dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Congress won a majority of seats in the Gwalior-Chambal belt because the BSP supporters strategically voted for it to scuttle the BJP’s chances.
Congress insiders had admitted that there was no chance Baraiya could win because Digvijaya was the first choice. The BJP has tried to use Baraiya’s nomination to paint the Congress as anti-Dalit, saying it had the option to make him the first choice but did not.
Scindia who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, was in Delhi and could not make it to Bhopal. In a video message, he thanked BJP MLAs and its top leadership for facilitating his entry into the Rajya Sabha from his home state. “Because I am Covid-positive I could not be with you,”’ he said, promising to visit Bhopal soon.
Congress MLA Kunal Chaudhary, who tested positive a few days ago, turned up to the Assembly to vote in a personal protective kit. He entered the premises after everyone else had voted. The assembly premises were disinfected soon after he left. Chaudhary had the option to use postal ballot but chose to turn up in person.
“Even if I am required to wear two PPE kits I will do so but I will vote,”’ he said recently.
Congratulating Scindia, Chief Minister Chouhan said his political experience and presence in the Upper House and will help the state and the country.
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