NEW DELHI: The BJP on Friday exacted revenge for the SP-BSP pact - that wrested its two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh a few weeks ago - by defeating Mayawati’s candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections.
Backed by the BJP, Independent Atul Agarwal from Ghaziabad trounced BSP’s Bhim Rao Ambedkar in the second preference votes in a poll marred by cross-voting. The BJP picked up nine on 10 seats in UP. The tenth seat went to Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan.
Of the nine BJP candidates who sailed through was Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The UP victory lifted the morale of the party, though getting a majority in the Rajya Sabha will remain elusive for the NDA during its current tenure.
The BJP-led NDA’s tally is now 77 and could further go up if Independents are factored in, but the Rajya Sabha may not witness substantial changes since the non-NDA parties would continue to have 168 in a House of 245.
The BJP, which had already been the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha, made further gains and now commands a tally of 68 MPs. The Congress lost six of its sitting MPs, leaving it with just 48.
Team Amit Shah is also set to make a strong presence in the Rajya Sabha. His key lieutenents – national general secretaries Anil Jain (Uttar Pradesh), Saroj Pandey (Chhattisgarh) and Bhupinder Yadav (Rajasthan), besides Anil Balooni and G V L Narasimha Rao would add to the strength in the Upper House.
Unions ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Thavar Chand Gehlot (MP), Ravi Shankar Prasad (Bihar), Puroshottam Rupala and Mansukh L Mandavia (Gujarat) won their berths unopposed.
Of four seats in Karnataka, the Congress bagged three, while the BJP took one. In Jharkhand, the BJP and Congress shared one each.
By ensuring election of the poll veteran Kirodi Lal Meena to the Rajya Sabha, who had formerly been a sworn enemy of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, the BJP seems to have gained strength among the formidable Meena community in the state in the run up to the Assembly polls.
“The ruling NDA will still bank on friendly parties, including AIADMK and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (which bagged all three seats from the state in the biennial elections), besides tactical coordination with the Opposition parties to push the legislative businesses in the Upper House,” said a top ranking BJP leader.
“Since there will be only a few seats becoming vacant in the Rajya Sabha in the run up to the general elections next year, the ruling alliance will not be able to push forward contentious legislative businesses in the House.
How the ninth seat game was played
Agarwal polled 22 first preference votes, BSP’s Ambedkar got 33 - four short of the winning figure of 37
Agarwal then made it on the basis of second preference votes
Agarwal’s first preference vote count was low as BJP wasted 16 votes by giving the other eight party candidates 39 each, two more than required
Heavy cross-voting from both ruling and opposition camps added to the drama
2 votes each of BJP and opposition declared invalid