With Close Contest Expected For Rajya Sabha, Parties Sweat It Out To Keep Flock Together

Maharashtra MLAs will vote for a Rajya Sabha candidate after more than two decades now.

New Delhi: With the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections just two days ahead, political parties are herding their flock to deter horse-trading, and vigorously figuring out the arithmetic to bag the seats that can go either way as of now.

Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Karnataka each have at least one seat t t is open and parties have pulled all stops to not make it easy for rivals.

In Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Congress and BJP  have accused each other of trying to poach the other’s candidate. The Latter has also alleged that both state governments are misusing the state machinery to intimidate their MLAs into cross-voting.

In Karnataka, the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress, both having vowed to defeat the BJP, are yet to reach a consensus as only one seat is in the contest and both parties have fielded candidates.

Maharashtra MLAs will vote for a Rajya Sabha candidate after more than two decades as candidates have usually been elected unopposed.

Six seats are in play and seven candidates — BJP (3), Shiv Sena (2), NCP (1), and Congress (1) — filled in their nominations forcing a vote for the sixth spot.

The BJP has fielded Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde, and former MP Dhananjay Mahadik, while Shiv Sena has put up two candidates – Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. NCP has renominated Senior leader Praful Patel, while Congress has fielded Imran Pratapgarhi.

A candidate needs  42 votes to win. BJP has a total of 105 MLAs, Shiv Sena has 55, NCP has 54, and Congress has 42 MLAs.

Apart from this, small parties and independents have a total of 29 MLAs.

After winning its two candidates, the BJP is left with a total of 29 votes for the third candidate after support from smaller parties.

The Shiv Sena has the support of the remaining 27 MLAs of Congress and the NCP combined.

The Uddhav Thackrey led Shiv-Sena has decided to shift its MLAs to a five-star hotel in south Mumbai to ward off overtures and the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders were holding talks with smaller parties and independents backing the ruling coalition.

The BJP has asked its MLAs to come to Mumbai in the next two days.

The contest for the sixth seat is between BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik and Sena’s Sanjay Pawar.

In Rajasthan, Subhash Chandra — the media baron contesting as a BJP-backed independent candidate — has claimed that he is going to win through cross-voting by Congress MLAs. Four Congress MLAs are already supporting him and “eight will crossvote” in his favor, he said.

Mr. Chandra also asked former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot to cross sides. This would be an opportunity for Mr. Pilot to avenge his “humiliation”, the media baron told reporters.

Mr. Pilot, however, advised Mr. Chandra to withdraw from the contest to avoid being humiliated.

“An advice to the Independent candidate of Rajasthan — Better to be out of the contest before voting on 10th. It is better to be humble than to be humiliated,” he tweeted.

“Unfortunately politics is not like making a TV series where you decide who will do what,” he said.

The BJP has also written to the Enforcement Directorate and the Rajasthan chief electoral officer, expressing apprehensions about horse-trading and the use of black money in the Rajya Sabha polls.

The Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria, Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore, and party whip Jogeshwar Garg accused the Congress of misusing government machinery to intimidate MLAs.

Their reaction came as Rajasthan police serve a notice to BJP legislator Chandrakanta Meghwal in a five-year-old assault case.

Ms. Meghwal, who is camping in Jaipur with other MLAs of the party ahead of elections to the upper house, did not appear at the police station in Kota.

The Congress shifted its MLAs to Udaipur on June 2, saying it fears horse-trading by the BJP.

While Congress can easily win two and the BJP one, the contest is for the fourth seat for which the BJP is backing Independent candidate Subhash Chandra.

Two legislators of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) have also decided to support the ruling Congress after meeting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

In Karnataka, six candidates are contesting for four seats, leading to a heated contest.

The Congress on Tuesday appealed to the ‘secular MLAs’ to cast their ‘conscience votes’ for their candidate Mansoor Ali Khan.

Congress Karnataka unit chief D K Shivakumar said he and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were making this appeal to everyone in the Karnataka Assembly.

Offering to trade second preference votes with the Congress, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said his main agenda is to defeat the BJP.

The former chief minister also claimed that even if JD(S) manages to get the second preference votes from Congress, it will be in a leading position.

Despite not having the adequate number of votes to win the fourth seat from the state Assembly, all the three political parties in the state — BJP, Congress, and JD(S) — have fielded candidates for the seat, forcing an election.

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