The ruling BJP today further consolidated its strength as the largest party in the Rajya Sabha (RS), while also snapping up the much coveted extra seat from Uttar Pradesh in the biennial polls to the Upper House of Parliament.
In Uttar Pradesh, eight BJP candidates secured Rajya Sabha seats with 39 votes each, while first time contestant Anil Kumar Agarwal won the ninth seat with with the help of second preference votes, fending off a fierce challenge from the new-found SP-BSP combine. SP’s actor-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan won one seat in the Upper House with the backing of independent MLAs.
Overall, the BJP swept 27 of the 58 seats up for grabs in the Upper House, widening the gap between it and the Congress, which won nine. Results of the two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand are still awaited. Reports said the Congress and the BJP have bagged one seat each, but an official announcement is yet to be made.
Counting of votes for the RS election in UP began after a two-hour delay, amid controversy that an SP and a BSP legislator had switched loyalties to vote for BJP candidates.
BSP MLA Anil Singh claimed he had cast his vote in the saffron party’s favour, saying “I am with Maharaj ji”, a reference to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The SP lodged a complaint with the EC about MLA Nitin Agarwal, who had switched sides after his father Naresh Agarwal quit the party and joined the BJP recently, alleging that he did not show his ballot paper to the election agent.
Previously, it was expected that the BJP will get eight seats due to its strong majority in the UP assembly , while the BSP and the SP will get one candidate each in the contest to elect 10 new members to the Upper House.
The list of winners in UP also includes Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Anil Jain, GVL Narasimha Rao, Vijay Pal Tomar, Kanta Kardam, Ashok Bajpai, Harnath Yadav and Sakaldeep Rajbhar.
“All the 9 candidates of BJP have won. I thank our allies, independent MLAs and others who supported us. They voted for the betterment of the state,” said CM Yogi Adityanath after the announcement of results.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) bagged four seats, while the Congress, which fielded Abhishek Manu Singhvi, won one seat in the RS polls.
All four TMC candidates — sitting Rajya Sabha member Nadimul Haque and first time nominees Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santanu Sen — emerged victorious in the vote count.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, whose candidature was backed by the TMC, said after his victory: “It is humbling and uplifting, it is a result of cooperation between different groups and MLAs.”
Scenes of recrimination played out at the Vidhana Soudha earlier today, as JDS leader and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy charged that the returning officer allowed two Congress leaders to recast their vote after they ‘cross-voted’.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah dismissed the allegation as ‘false’, saying that before casting their votes, the two MLAs realised they had made a “mistake” on the ballot paper, so they took another one for which “there is a provision in law.”
When the counting of votes ended, the Congress party’s Dr L Hanumanthaiah, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain and G C Chandrasekhar won three RS seats. The BJP’s Rajeev Chandrashekar won in the fourth seat.
The state’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) won all three RS seats for which polling was held today.
B Prakash, J Santosh Kumar and A B Lingaiah Yadav were elected to the Upper House, whereas Congress candidate and former union minister P Balram Naik was defeated.
The BJP (five members), Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and CPI-M abstained from voting.
BJP candidate Saroj Pandey was elected to the RS by defeating Congress nominee Lekhram Sahu by a comfortable margin.
Pandey secured 51 votes in her favour, not only the ones polled by BJP MLAs but also the cross votes of BSP MLA Keshav Chandra and an independent MLA Vimal Chopra.
JD(U)’s Veerendra Kumar secured the single Rajya Sabha seat up for grabs in Kerala. He was supported by the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and polled 89 votes to defeat B Babu Prasad, the opposition UDF candidate.
Counting of votes began 45 minutes later than the scheduled 5 pm, as the Congress-led UDF lodged a protest with the Election Commission that CPI, JDS and NCP MLAs, belonging to the LDF, had not appointed polling agents.
BJP’s lone MLA O Rajagopal abstained from voting for any party in the polls.
The present strength of members in the Rajya Sabha is 245, out of which 233 are elected and 12 are nominated. The total number of members in the Upper House cannot exceed 250 at any given point of time, as per the Constitution.