RS dy chairman poll: uncertainty reigns

RS dy chairman poll: uncertainty reigns

Rajya Sabha. PTI file photo

The NCP and the DMK on Tuesday chose not to field its MP as a joint Opposition candidate as claims that BJD has pledged its support to NDA candidate JD (U) MP Harivansh propped up, prompting the Congress to field a candidate of its own as a nominee for the Thursday elections.

BJD added suspense by making a media statement in the evening saying it has not decided on which side to vote for.

The party said JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar rang up BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking his party's support for Harivansh.

The BJD, which holds the key to the results with nine MPs in the Rajya Sabha, also said in the statement that Nitish had not supported Patnaik's call for vote for P A Sangma during the 2012 presidential polls.

BJP chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and NCP chief Sharad Pawar also called up Patnaik seeking his support.

On a day of fast-paced developments, the Opposition parties met twice in the day. After the 1 pm meeting, two senior Opposition leaders said NCP's Vandana Chavan is the "most likely" candidate, while ruling out the candidature of DMK's Tiruchi Siva.

They had decided to meet again in the evening.

The brief meeting at 6 pm was concluded in minutes after NCP leaders informed the Opposition that Patnaik had told its chief Sharad Pawar that he has already pledged his support to the JD(U) candidate.

However, a senior BJD leader told DH: "Do you think Patnaik will reveal his cards 48 hours before the voting? You should wait for his decision."

DMK, though none of its leaders were present, also informed the Opposition parties that it is not nominating anyone for the post. As NCP and DMK were not keen to field their MPs, the Congress said it will not shy away from the fight and will field a candidate. Sources said other Opposition parties then extended support to the Congress nominee.

The Opposition leaders were working their phones late in the evening with a senior leader saying they have to "talk to two-three parties again".

Earlier in the day, YSR Congress announced that it will not support a BJP or NDA candidate.

The party's Rajya Sabha floor leader V Vijayasai Reddy told DH that a decision was taken by party chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy after considering the recommendation of YSR Congress' Political Affairs Committee.

However, he did not make it clear whether the two MPs would vote in favour of an Opposition candidate or abstain from voting.

"We cannot vote for the BJP after what they did — not grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh. YSR Congress is fighting the BJP," Reddy said.

AIADMK and TRS have pledged support to NDA candidate while Shiv Sena has kept its cards close to the chest though BJP is confident that it will vote for Harivansh. Sources said Harivansh has reached out to party leaders seeking support.

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