Rajya Sabha polls: 37 members elected unopposed

Rajya Sabha polls: 37 members elected unopposed

Parliament Building, New Delhi (PTI Photo)

Despite the high political drama and heightened tension in few states during the on-going polls for 55 seats of Rajya Sabha, 37 candidates were declared elected unopposed on Wednesday, the last day of withdrawal of names.

Controversies and sparring in states like Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh and BJP-ruled Gujarat, however, continued with the respective parties engaged in a fierce contest to protect their turf and poach on that of others.

A keen contest will be witnessed in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh Rajasthan and Jharkhand, where the BJP has attempted to push the boundary line, seeking to win seats beyond the numbers with it, leaving the Congress worried. 

BJP has already won seven seats -- two in Haryana, three in Maharashtra and one each in Himachal Pradesh and Bihar.

Of the 55 seats in 17 states for which polls were scheduled on March 26, 37 candidates in at least 10 states—Maharashtra (07), Tamil Nadu (06), Telangana (02), Bihar (05), West Bengal (05), Odisha (04), Haryana (02), Chhattisgarh (02),  Assam (03) and Himachal Pradesh (01), were elected unopposed.  Elections will be held for 18 other seats--- four each in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, three each in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two in Jharkhand and one each in Manipur and Meghalaya on March 26.

In Maharashtra, NCP boss Sharad Pawar and former Union Minister Ramdas Athawale from NDA ally RPI (A), Congress’ Rajiv Satav (Rahul Gandhi’s pick) and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi were among all seven candidates elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha. 

In AIADMK-ruled Tamil Nadu, all six candidates including DMK’s Tiruchi N Siva, former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thamidurai from AIADMK and TMC chief  G K Vasan were among six elected unopposed. In Telangana, two nominees of the ruling TRS including former Congressman K Keshava Rao were elected unopposed.

In NDA-ruled Bihar Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh and former Union Minister Prem Chand Gupta were among five candidates declared unopposed.

In West Bengal, four Trinamool Congress candidates including former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi and Mausam Noor and CPI(M) nominee Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, backed by the Congress were elected. He was nominated after CPI-M politburo said no to third time nomination for party Secretary General Sitaram Yechury from West Bengal despite party’s West Bengal unit recommending so.

Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son Deepender Singh Hooda from Congress was among the three candidates elected unopposed from Haryana with BJP winning the second as also one more seat, which had fallen vacant by the resignation of former Union Minister Birender Singh.

In BJD-ruled Odisha, all four candidates of the ruling party were elected to the Rajya Sabha unopposed while in Assam BJP nominee Bhubaneshwar Kalita, a former Congressman was among the three elected unopposed.

In Chhattisgarh, both Congress nominees including ace Supreme Court lawyer K T S Tulsi were elected unopposed. Tulsi was nominated in place of former AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who is retiring next month while the other seat belonged to the BJP.

The lone candidate from Himachal Pradesh BJP’s Indu Goswami was also elected unopposed from the seat vacated by Congress’ Viplovee Thakur.

While Congress gained in Chhattishgarh, it was tottering in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Contest and Controversies

Madhya Pradesh BJP on Wednesday petitioned Election Commission (EC) accusing Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh of exerting pressure on 16 rebel MLAs of his party, who staying in Bengaluru, to vote for him in the Rajya Sabha polls. In MP while both Congress and BJP can win one seat each, it is the third seat, which is the bone of contention. Congress leader Jyotriaditya Scindia joining the BJP has made the difference.

In Gujarat an upset Congress leader Hardik Patel said those who betray people should be “thrashed with slippers in public” as trouble mounted for the party with five MLAs having resigned, boosting the BJP’s chances to win three of the four Rajya Sabha seats in the state. Otherwise, both BJP and Congress could have won two each. Congress alleged the BJP paid Rs 65 crore to buy the five MLAs, a charge trashed by the ruling party. BJP has fielded three candidates including a former Congressman Narhari Ameen while Congress has fielded two.

Four candidates are in the fray for three seats of Rajasthan including AICC general secretary K C Venugopal. BJP fielding a second candidate has made the political waters troubled there.

In Andhra Pradesh, too, the election is now inevitable as five candidates—four YSR Congress and one TDP are in the fray for four Rajya Sabha seats.

In Jharkhand, three candidates, including JMM president Shibu Soren, are contesting for two Rajya Sabha seats.

Those who will be missed out

While many prominent members of Rajya Sabha, who are retiring in April will come back to the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha will, nevertheless, miss several known faces like Motilal Vora, Madhusudan Mistry, Hussain Dalwai, Kumari Selja, Viplovee Thakur (all Congress), Majid Memon (NCP), Vijay Goel and CP Thakur (BJP).

In some cases son has replaced father like Vivek Thakur, son of BJP leader C P Thakur in Bihar while sunrise depended on father’s performance in the case Deepender Hooda, whose father and former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda had revived party fortunes in 2019 state polls.

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