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Saturday, August 20, 2022

Rajya Sabha polls in cliffhanger states: The math, drama and politics

As of now, 41 candidates belonging to various parties in 11 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab – have won unopposed.

A view of Parliament. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

The biennial elections to Rajya Sabha are being held to fill 57 seats in the Upper House across 15 states.

As of now, 41 candidates belonging to various parties in 11 states — Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab – have won unopposed.

However, the surprise entry of two media barons as Independent candidates in Haryana and Rajasthan; the move by the ruling BJP, Congress and the JD(S) to try their luck for the fourth seat in Karnataka despite not having the numbers; and the BJP and the Shiv Sena’s decision to field an extra candidate in Maharashtra have forced elections for 16 vacant Rajya Sabha in these four states. The elections in these four states – Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra – will be conducted on June 10.

And predictably, accusations of horse-trading, shifting of MLAs to resorts, hectic meetings and head count have injected an element of drama and suspense to the otherwise mundane election process.

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Here is a breakdown of what is happening in the four states:

Rajasthan

Number of seats: 4

Number of candidates: 5

Number of votes each candidate needs to win: 41

Out of the 200 seats in the Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress has 108 MLAs and the BJP has 71. In this scenario, the Congress will win two and the BJP one.

But the Congress has nominated three candidates – Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik, and Pramod Tiwari. While the BJP has fielded only one candidate — former MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari – the party is also backing Independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra.

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The Congress would need 15 more votes for all three of its candidates to sail through. The BJP, on the other hand, needs 11 surplus votes for its two candidates.

Haryana

Number of seats: 2

Number of candidates: 3

Number of votes required for each candidate to win: 31

In the 90-member Haryana Assembly, the Congress has 31 MLAs — just enough to ensure the victory of its candidate, Ajay Maken. The BJP, which has 40 MLAs, has fielded former Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar and is backing News X’s owner Kartikeya Sharma. The party is banking on the 10 seats of its ally Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) to see Sharma through. Besides, there are seven Independents. INLD’s Abhay Chautala and Haryana Lokhit Party’s Gopal Kanda have also announced their support to Kartikeya Sharma.

Karnataka

Number of seats: 4

Number of candidates: 6

Number of votes required for each candidate to win: 45

In the Karnataka Assembly, which has 224 seats, the Congress has 70 MLAs, the BJP has 121 seats and the JD(S) has 32. The ruling BJP is set to win two of the four seats, and the Congress one. The fourth seat, however, is turning out to be a crucial one with both the Congress and the BJP fielding an extra candidate each. The Congress has fielded former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and Mansoor Ali Khan; and the BJP has Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, actor Jaggesh, and Karnataka MLC Lahar Singh Siroya as their candidates. Real estate baron D Kupendra Reddy is the JD(S)’s candidate.

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Maharashtra

Number of seats: 6

Number of candidates: 7

Number of votes needed: 42

Of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP has 106, the Shiv Sena has 55, the Congress 44 and the NCP 53 (but two of its MLAs, Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, are in jail). Independents and smaller parties have 29 votes combined.

The BJP has fielded three candidates in the state: Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mhadik. The Sena has two candidates in the fray — spokesperson Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The NCP and the Congress, who are part of the ruling alliance, have fielded one candidate each— former Union minister Praful Patel and Imran Pratapgadi respectively.

In normal circumstances, assuming no cross-voting takes place, the Congress will be left with two surplus votes after getting its official candidate elected, and the NCP will have 9 surplus votes (in case Malik and Deshmukh are not allowed to vote). The Congress and NCP can pass these on to the Sena, which will have 13 surplus votes of its own after electing one of its two candidates. Besides, there are four Independents who are part of the government and are likely to vote for the Sena. All together, the surplus votes of the Congress, NCP and the Sena amount to 24 in a normal situation. However, given the threat of cross-voting, the surplus votes of the three parties may be far less.

First published on: 08-06-2022 at 07:47:10 pm
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