New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) All eyes will be on the voting on Saturday for biennial elections for 27 Rajya Sabha seats in seven states even as suspense remains on the fate of senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and the outcome of polls in Karnataka, where charges of large-scale horse-trading have surfaced.
With 30 candidates from eight states already elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha, voting for the remaining 27 seats will take place on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.
Voting for 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh, four each in Rajasthan and Karnataka, three in Madhya Pradesh, two each in Haryana and Jharkhand and one in Uttarakhand will be on Saturday.
Amid charges and counter charges of horse trading, fierce contests are on the cards especially in Karnataka, where a sting by TV channels has indicated that parties have big stakes in the polls for the upper house.
In an effort to increase its own numerical strength in the Upper House, where the government lacks majority, the BJP has supported some independent candidates to ensure that the Congress is not able to win any extra seat. It has also fielded its candidates in some states to grab seats from others.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh seems to be more keen to give a strong fight to Congress nominee Kapil Sibal, who also has the support of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
“We will be indulging in strategic voting and will ensure defeat of Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party nominees,” said BJP spokesman in Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
The Congress, however, remained confident of winning the seat for former union minister Sibal from UP.
“We remain confident that both in Karnataka as well as in UP the Congress party will triumph,” party spokesman Manish Tewari said here.
Interestingly, the nomination of Preeti Mohapatra as independent candidate in Uttar Pradesh has been proposed by some BJP legislators making it clear that the saffron party does not want to give a cakewalk to Sibal.
In Uttar Pradesh 12 candidates are in the fray for the vacant 11 seats where the ruling Samajwadi Party has fielded seven candidates while the Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded two. The BJP and the Congress have fielded one candidate each.
With support of Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, SP is likely to easily win all the seven seats. The BSP’s two and BJP’s one candidate would also probably sail through easily.
In Karnataka, five nominees, including three from Congress and one each from the BJP and Janatal Dal-Secular (JD-S) are in the fray.
The candidates are Oscar Fernandes, Jairam Ramesh and K.C. Ramamurthy (all Congress), Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of BJP and B.M. Farooq of Janata Dal-Secular.
The contest in Karnataka is basically between Congress’s third nominee Ramamurthy and JD-S’ B.M. Farooq. While Ramamurthy will need 12 more votes, Farooq will need five more votes to win as his party has only 40 lawmakers in the house.
Polling for four Rajya Sabha seats in Rajasthan was necessitated as no candidate withdrew their nomination. Four BJP candidates and one Independent candidate, supported by opposition Congress have filed nominations for the four seats.
Nomination by former Union minister and business tycoon Kamal Morarka on the last day has added more flavour to the contest.
Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, BJP national vice president Om Prakash Mathur, former RBI official Ramkumar Verma and member of the erstwhile Dungarpur royal family Harsh Vardhan Singh are the BJP nominees.
In Haryana, where the BJP does not have adequate numbers to get two candidates elected, the party has nominated Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh as its candidate. With extra votes in hand, the BJP has supported media baron Subhash Chandra, who has filed nomination as an Independent candidate.
Senior lawyer R.K. Anand has also filed nomination in Haryana as an Independent candidate and is banking on support of Congress and opposition Indian National Lok Dal.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has nominated Anil Madhav Dave and M.J. Akbar as its two candidates for the three vacant seats.
With an eye to the third seat, BJP has fielded Vinod Gotiya, a state BJP office bearer, as an Independent candidate. This move of the BJP is seen as a ploy to thwart the election of Congress candidate Vivek Tankha, who is short of only one vote.
With eight votes short for Gotia’s victory, the BJP is aiming to garner support of BSP and Independent members.
In Jharkhand, where the BJP is assured of Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi being elected to the first seat, it has chosen its second nominee as Mahesh Poddar, an industrialist.
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has fielded Basant Soren, son of its chief Shibu Soren. The Congress, which has not fielded any candidate has given support to Soren.
Two of the six Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand are getting vacant this time with BJP’s M.J. Akbar and Congress’s Dheeraj Sahu completing their respective terms.
In Uttarakhand, where the BJP’s move to dislodge the Harish Rawat government did not pay off, it has not nominated any candidate. However, its two leaders Gita Thakur and Anil Goel have filed nominations as Independents against Pradeep Tamta, the joint candidate of the Congress and PDF (Peoples Democratic Front).
Despite BJP’s efforts to win extra seats in these polls, the Congress will continue to remain the single-largest party in the 245-member House.
The biennial elections were necessitated as 55 members from 15 states are retiring between June and August. One seat each from Rajasthan and Karnataka have also been vacated — by Anand Sharma (Congress) and Vijay Mallya (Independent), respectively — and will also go for polls.
Thirty candidates from various political parties were already declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from their eight respective states in the absence of more contenders.