The BJP bagged all four Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan in Saturday’s election that saw Congress-backed Independent candidate Kamal Morarka defeated. The winning candidates from the BJP included Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, party’s national vice-president Om Prakash Mathur, retired RBI officer Ramkumar Verma and Harshvardhan Singh of the Dungarupur royal family.
Going into the polls, BJP said it had 166 votes — 160 of its own, four Independents and two of the National Unionist Zamindara Party (NUZP) MLAs Kamini Jindal and Sonadevi. Sources said that while Kamini Jindal voted for the BJP, Sonadevi’s vote was rejected.
In a House of 200, both Naidu and Mathur bagged 42 first preference votes, while Singh and Verma got 40 votes each. Morarka managed only 34 votes.
Of Morarka’s 34, 24 came from the Congress, four from the National People’s Party (NPP), two from BSP and four Independents. On Friday, the Rajasthan High Court had dismissed jailed BSP MLA B L Kushwah’s petition to be allowed to vote.
According to BJP sources, the party had planned a 43 votes each for Naidu and Mathur. With Sonadevi’s vote being rejected, there was cross-voting of at least one vote from the BJP camp, they said.
Playing down the talk of cross-voting , senior Cabinet minister and a close aide of CM Raje, Rajendra Rathore, said: “We have 160 MLAs, so anything above it shows our strength. Party candidates garnering a total of 164 votes shows that the party MLAs reposed their faith in the CM.”
BJP state president Ashok Parnami added: “Sonadevi’s vote was rejected while sources say that Independent MLA Nandkishore Maharia voted for Morarka. All our MLAs voted for us.”
Leader of Opposition Rameshwar Dudi was the first to cast his vote, followed by Congress MLAs, and subsequently by BJP MLAs, who were brought directly to the Assembly from the hotel where they were kept for the past couple of days. Morarka’s proposer, Independent MLA Anju Devi Dhanka, turned up to vote with Parnami.
“Morarka had initially contacted me and I became his proposer. But on Saturday, he did not call…So, I was in two minds whether to vote or not…BJP said that whatever work I have, they will support me. Hence, I voted for them,” said Dhanka, who was the last to vote after at 3 pm.
Congress state president Sachin Pilot told The Indian Express, “The numbers were clear from day and the BJP was hoping to get a walkover but our role was to be an active opposition. And merely our support to an Independent candidate rattled and unnerved BJP so much that they kept their own MLAs under lock and key. We received 34 votes and hence this also shows that the opposition is together.”
While Independent MLA Rajkumar Sharma had claimed that NUZP MLAs felt threatened by raids conducted to search their national president B D Agarwal in an old case, party MLA Kamini Jindal said, “There was no pressure on us. We extended support on the condition that our constituencies get due consideration from the ruling party.”