Congress nominee Pradeep Tamta Saturday won the Rajya Sabha election from Uttarakhand with support from six MLAs of Progressive Democratic Front (PDF).
Thanking his and PDF’s MLAs for “maintaining unity” in supporting Tamta, Chief Minister Harish Rawat termed it a “victory of people”. “A Dalit has been elected to Rajya Sabha,” Rawat said, and slammed BJP, which “tried to use money power to get its candidate elected but failed in its intentions”.
Tamta, who has been a Lok Sabha member from Almora in the past, defeated BJP-supported candidate Anil Goyal, who secured 26 votes, all from members of the saffron party.
As per the existing strength — 58 — in the Uttarakhand assembly, a candidate needed 30 votes to secure a berth in the Upper House. Tamta edged past Goyal by securing six more votes from PDF, which is a coalition of two legislators of BSP, one of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and three Independents.
The election for the sole RS seat from Uttarakhand, which had fallen vacant after BJP leader Tarun Vijay’s term expired, did not witness cross-voting.
Congress leader and CM’s adviser Surendra Agrawal reiterated Rawat’s assertion that no Dalit had been elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttarakhand since the state was formed in 2000. When Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh, a Congress leader from Almora, Ram Prasad Tamta, was a Dalit to have been elected to Rajya Sabha.
Winner Pradeep Tamta said the BJP has worked against the healthy tradition of not fielding a candidate. “BJP first decided to not field a candidate but later its two leaders filed their nomination as Independents. The party also asked candidate Geeta Thakur, who is a Dalit, to withdraw after promising to support her,” Tamta said and suggested that the saffron party “take lesson from this defeat”.
BJP spokesperson Vinay Goyal said the results were “not a disappointment”. “We did not have the required numbers to ensure a win for our candidate and so we decided not to field anyone. But we appreciate the courage shown by Anil Goyal who contested the election against the Congress. BJP also appreciates the commitment of its MLAs who remained loyal and did not go for cross voting despite allurement from Congress,” he claimed.
Polling for the sole seat was necessitated because BJP’s state executive member Anil Goyal and party’s state secretary Geeta Thakur filed nomination as Independents with the party’s support. Thakur, however, quit the BJP in a last-minute decision late Friday evening and announced her support to Congress. She was reportedly asked by the BJP to withdraw and support Anil Goyal.
She said the party “suffered from an anti-woman and anti-Dalit mindset” and claimed that she was “forced to back out”. Accusing the BJP of persecuting her mentally, she said her hopes were first raised and then mercilessly dashed due to “money and briefcase politics”.
Holding Uttarakhand BJP in-charge Shyam Jaju and party’s national organisation co-secretary Shivprakash responsible for the “insult”, Thakur had said Friday that she was resigning from the primary membership of the party as well as from the membership of the Central Board of Film Certification and also as the brand ambassador of the Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao scheme of the central government “with immediate effect”.