RS polls 2024: Himachal CM alleges kidnapping of 6 congress MLAs; 214 MLAs cast their vote in Karnataka

Amid fears of cross-voting by Samajwadi Party MLAs, party chief Akhilesh Yadav said, "Those who put spikes in someone else' path or dig holes for others themselves fall," in a swipe at the BJP.
Rajya Sabha
Rajya Sabha File Photo | PTI

Voting for the biennial elections in 14 Rajya Sabha seats across Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka is underway. Polling for the lone seat in Himachal Pradesh ended at noon.

The voting process commenced at 9 am in the upper house, with vote counting scheduled to start at 5 pm. 41 leaders for 56 seats have already been elected unopposed including former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, BJP chief JP Nadda, Ashok Chavan and Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and L Murugan.

With eight BJP candidates and three from the Samajwadi Party in the fray in Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party MLA Manoj Kumar Pandey resigned from the post of party chief whip a day after he skipped a meeting called by party chief Akhilesh Yadav on the Rajya Sabha elections.

In Karnataka, the ruling Congress is claiming it could get support from the rival camp. Fearing cross-voting, both the Congress and the BJP-JD(S) alliance huddled their MLAs in a private resort on February 26 and held a workshop for the new members on election process and how to cast their votes.

The counting will commence from 5 p.m. onwards.

Uttar Pradesh: Keen contest between BJP and SP in 10 RS seats

In Uttar Pradesh, the stage is set for a high-pitched electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh with the ruling BJP fielding eight candidates and the opposition Samajwadi Party fielding three candidates for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats. Although the BJP has enough numbers to send seven members unopposed, the presence of eighth candidate Sanjay Seth has increased the likelihood of a competitive contest for one seat.

On Monday, as many as eight SP MLAs did not attend a dinner meeting called by party chief Akhilesh Yadav. When asked about it, Yadav said, "Those who wanted to profit from the situation will go. Those who were promised will go." "Those who put spikes in someone else' path or dig holes for others themselves fall," Yadav said in a swipe at the BJP.

The BJP and the SP are the two largest parties in the 403-member state assembly with 252 and 108 MLAs, respectively. The Congress, an alliance partner of the SP, has two seats. BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has 13 seats, NISHAD Party has six seats, RLD has nine, SBSP six, Jansatta Dal Loktantrik two and the BSP has one seat. Four seats are currently vacant.

To get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, a candidate needs 37 first preference votes.

Candidates fielded by the BJP: Former SP leader Sanjay Seth, former Union minister RPN Singh, former MP Chaudhary Tejveer Singh, general secretary of the party's Uttar Pradesh unit Amarpal Maurya, former state minister Sangeeta Balwant, party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, former MLA Sadhna Singh, and former Agra mayor Naveen Jain.

Candidates fielded by the Samajwadi Party: Actor-MP Jaya Bachchan, retired IAS officer Alok Ranjan, and Dalit leader Ramji Lal Suman.

RLD MLAs before casting their votes for the Rajya Sabha elections, in Lucknow, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.
RLD MLAs before casting their votes for the Rajya Sabha elections, in Lucknow, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.PTI

Karnataka: Congress hopeful of winning 3 out of 4 RS seats

Five candidates -- Ajay Maken, Syed Naseer Hussain and G C Chandrasekhar (all Congress), Narayansa Bandage (BJP) and Kupendra Reddy (JD(S)) -- are in the fray to fill four vacancies from Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha.

All parties have issued whips to the MLAs, who are the voters in Tuesday's poll, amid apprehensions of cross-voting.

The ruling Congress on Monday shifted all its MLAs to a hotel apparently to keep the flock together.

The Congress has 133 MLAs, excluding the Speaker, while the BJP and JD(S) have 66 and 19 legislators respectively, in the 223-member House. However, one Congress MLA died on Sunday.

Congress sources claimed that the party has the support of four others including two independents and Darshan Puttanaiah from Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha, and is confident of winning three seats.

Each candidate has to get 45 votes to win, if there are only four candidates in the fray, but in the case of more candidates, then preference votes kick in.

The election was necessitated due to the retirement of Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekar from the BJP, and Congress' Chandrashekar, L Hanumanthaiah and Hussain, on April 2, after the expiry of their six-year term.

In a setback to BJP-JD(S) alliance, saffron party MLA S T Somashekar voted for Congress during the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka on Tuesday.

Somashekar, who is upset with the BJP and had been rebellious against the party, voted in favour of the Congress candidate, the BJP leaders said and added that the party will be exploring legal option to deal with him.

"We have got the information that Somashekar has done cross-voting. I believe that people do not like cheating every now and then," the Leader of Opposition R Ashoka told reporters here.

"I consulted with advocate Vivek Reddy who is our state legal cell president and a high court lawyer. We will ask the Speaker to initiate against him (Somashekar) and explore the possibilities to take action in accordance with the law," Ashoka, former deputy chief minister, said.

Somashekar had quit the Congress and joined the BJP and served as the minister (in the BJP government) and he was made the Mysuru district in charge minister.

Ashoka termed Somashekar's decision as "political suicide".

FIR lodged against JD(S) Rajya Sabha candidate for 'threatening' Congress MLAs

An FIR has been registered against the JD(S) leader contesting the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka, D Kupendra Reddy, and his aides at the Vidhana Soudha police station in Bengaluru, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too confirmed that an FIR has been registered for "threatening" the Congress MLAs in connection with the Rajya Sabha elections.

Rajya Sabha
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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah casts his vote for the Rajya Sabha elections, in Bengaluru, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah casts his vote for the Rajya Sabha elections, in Bengaluru, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. PTI

Himachal Pradesh: One RS seat; Congress has clear majority

Ahead of polling for one Rajya Sabha seat in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP on Monday had accused the ruling Congress of issuing a whip to its members to pressurise them and maintained that the MLAs have been elected democratically and have the right to vote as per their wish.

Wary of claims of victory by BJP Rajya Sabha candidate Harsh Mahajan, the Congress had earlier issued a whip to its MLAs to vote for party candidate Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Mahajan, a three-time Congress MLA and former minister, had resigned from the party in September 2022 ahead of the assembly polls and joined the BJP.

Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur said the Election Commission of India had made it clear that whip can't be issued for the election. He also alleged that the police was tapping the phones of the MLAs and checking their location.

The Congress has a clear majority with 40 out of 68 MLAs and the support of three independent MLAs.

Despite the fact that the BJP, with 25 MLAs, is far behind in the number game, it has forced a contest by fielding Mahajan against Singhvi.

Five to six Cong MLAs 'kidnapped', whisked away by CRPF and Haryana Police: Himachal CM Sukhu

Following the RS elections, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu alleged that five to six Congress MLAs were "kidnapped" and whisked away in a convoy of CRPF and Haryana Police, and said their relatives are trying to contact them.

The allegation was made hours after the polling for the lone Rajya Sabha seat ended, amid concerns in the ruling Congress over cross-voting.

The BJP is indulging in hooliganism which is not good for democracy, he told reporters here.

(With inputs from PTI)

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu casts his vote for the Rajya Sabha elections, at Assembly complex in Shimla, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu casts his vote for the Rajya Sabha elections, at Assembly complex in Shimla, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. PTI

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