While the Congress seemed confident of winning three Rajya Sabha seats in Rajasthan and one in Haryana, the BJP has now posed a challenge with its surprise move of backing one Independent candidate each in Rajasthan and Haryana.
The candidates are Subhash Chandra in Rajasthan and Kartikeya Sharma in Haryana.
The Congress will now have to do extra work to manage its MLAs as the contest heats up in the run up to the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections.
In Rajasthan, businessman Subhash Chandra filed his nomination on Tuesday as an Independent candidate backed by the BJP.
The saffron party has fielded six-time MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari as its first candidate from Rajasthan and his victory is certain as the party needs 41 votes for his win, and the BJP enjoys an Assembly strength of 71 votes.
For the second seat it needs 11 votes, which means that Chandra can win by sabotaging the Congress-Independent MLA equation.
In Haryana, Kartikeya Sharma is likely to get votes from the JJP, as its President Ajay Singh Chautala has said that all the party MLAS will support an Independent candidate, besides garnering BJP votes.
Congress’ headache has increased after Kuldeep Bishnoi did not attend the party MLA’s meeting. The Congress has a strength of 31 votes in the 90-member Haryana Assembly, and a difference of a single vote can alter its equations.
Kartikeya Sharma is the son of former Congress leader Venod Sharma and Ambala Mayor Shakti Rani Sharma. He is also the son-in-law of former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma, a Congress veteran, while Venod Sharma has left the party.
Kartikeya, 41, is the managing director of ITV Network which runs news channels such as NewsX.
The Congress has fielded Ajay Maken from Haryana, while in Rajasthan its candidates are Mukul Wasnik, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Pramod Tiwari.
Dissent is already brewing as many party leaders are not happy with ‘outsiders’ contesting polls from their states, and both Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Ashok Gehlot will face a tough task in keeping their MLAs together in Haryana and Rajasthan, respectively.