Voting for 59 Rajya Sabha seats began on Friday with contests being held in seven states – Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is anticipated to gain at least a dozen seats in the Upper House of Parliament.
In West Bengal, six candidates are in the fray for five seats. Ruling party Trinamool Congress (TMC) has fielded four candidates — Nadimul Haq, Subhashish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santunu Sen. Seeking unity amongst the opposition parties ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has extended her support to Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Singhvi is the lone nominee from the Congress regime. The sixth candidate, who would be in the fray, is Rabin Deb from the CPM.
A candidate would require at least 50 votes to win. The TMC has 213 votes, Congress has 42 votes and the CPM has 26. The elections to the five Rajya Sabha seats in the state was necessitated as terms of four members- Kunal Ghosh, Bibek Gupta and Nadimul Haque of TMC and Tapan Sen of CPI(M) will end on April 2. Mukul Roy, who had joined the saffron party after quitting from TMC last year, has already resigned from the Rajya Sabha.
Commenting on her support to Singhvi, Mamata, in a meeting, had earlier said, “We are supporting him because he had fought several (legal) cases on behalf of the state government. Singhvi and Kapil Sibal usually fight cases on our behalf. So, we are supporting the Congress candidate, as the CPM did not field a candidate from the state.”
Meanwhile, Singhvi had earlier claimed that there was an “anti-BJP space” in the state and he was overwhelmed to be nominated. “The arithmetic, history and geography of this state show the presence of an anti-BJP political space here,” he had said.
Citing discrepancies in Singhvi’s nomination papers, the CPM on March 15 had written a letter to Chief Election Commission demanding for its cancellations. The party in its letter had stated, “Since the affidavit in form 26 filed by Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi does not bear the signature of the notary public in each page, it cannot be said to be an affidavit in the eye of the law…There is every reason to believe that the affidavit…filed by Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi is a forged one in as much as part of the affidavit is typed while the rest part is hand written. The notary public before whom the said affidavit was allegedly affirmed did not even put his seal and signature on the hand-written portion of the affidavit.”
Claiming the allegations made by CPM against him as “baseless, false”, Singhvi on Thursday said, “CPM’s allegations are petty to the point of being puerile. They are malicious, baseless, unfounded, defamatory and false. They have raised childish objections on March 12 during the submission of nomination forms. Yesterday, they raised objections that the notary public has stamped but not signed (on affidavits) and that my own statement which I own up to is forged. Most importantly, they raised a very malicious and false allegation about my age. It was comic if not tragic. Since the CPM knows and is convinced about its defeat, they are now challenging my 2006 declaration on a typographical error without challenging my declaration in 2018 or 2012.”
Total no of seats: 5
Candidates in fray
TMC candidate: Nadimul Haq, Subhashish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santunu Sen
Congress candidate: Abhishek Manu Singhvi
CPM candidate: Rabin Deb
TMC: 213 seats in Assembly
Votes needed for a win: 50