Rajya Sabha election result 2018: BJP now largest party in the Upper House

Congress nominated candidate Dheeraj Sahu flashes a victory sign after being elected as new MP of Rajya Sabha in Ranchi. Photo: PTI
The BJP is set to consolidate its position as the largest party in the Rajya Sabha as the results of biennial elections to 58 seats in the House have widened the gap between it and the Congress, even though a majority will continue to elude the ruling NDA.

The BJP has won 18 seats and the Congress 9 with results of the 10 Uttar Pradesh and two Jharkhand seats yet to be announced. The saffron party's strong majority in the UP assembly will result in its win in at least eight seats and it is banking on support of independents and rebels to clinch a ninth seat. The BJP currently has 58 members in the Rajya Sabha followed by 54 of the Congress.

Among the 58 outgoing parliamentarians, 17 are from the BJP and 14 from the Congress. As many as 16 and five members of the BJP and the Congress were declared elected uncontested out of a total 33 on March 15, the last day of withdrawal of candidates. The BJP will gain 10-11 seats, depending on the final outcome of the Uttar Pradesh elections.

The total strength of the Rajya Sabha is 245. However, the BJP-led NDA's chances of inching towards a majority have suffered a setback with the TDP, which has six members, walking out of it.

Ruling alliance sources, however, are of the view that a fall in Congress' numbers, which may come down to 50, and other vocal opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party will help their agenda in the Upper House.

Parties like AIADMK, TRS and YSR Congress, which will have a combined strength of about 21 after new members take oath, have often supported the government's legislative agenda in the Rajya Sabha.

HIGHLIGHTS

— This is the victory of democracy and it is for the welfare of Uttar Pradesh: Mahendra Nath Pandey, BJP State President.

— We have just come to know that the CM is in contact with the Returning Officer, who is being forced to bring the result in the favor of BJP. If this is found to be true then we will take action against it: Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 

— I am very happy to have received the maximum number of votes. Happy with the trust shown in me. It is an honor for me to serve Karnataka and serve my city Bengaluru: Rajeev Chandrashekhar, BJP.

— Telangana Rashtra Samithi's (TRS) B. Prakash, J. Santosh Kumar and AB. Lingaiah Yadav win.

— Election Commission has rejected the complaint against Jharkhand Vikas Morcha MLA Prakash Ram after reviewing the video. It was alleged that he did not show his ballot paper to the party's authorised representative after casting vote.

— Congress Abhishek Manu Singhvi wins Rajya Sabha elections from West Bengal, says, 'it is humbling and uplifting, it is a result of cooperation between different groups and MLAs.'

— Counting of votes for Rajya Sabha elections in UP begins after clearance from the Election Commission.

I am at the seventh heaven of delight. This is the brain child of CM Mamata didi. I am very hopeful that I will live up to her expectations: Abir Ranjan Biswas, TMC after winning the Rajya Sabha seat. #RajyaSabhaElections #WestBengal pic.twitter.com/ZEhbYQyFQr

— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2018
— TDP leader CM Ramesh, has been unanimously elected to Rajya Sabha consecutively

— Counting of votes has not started as yet because Janata Dal had complained to EC about some discrepancy. Janata Dal has boycotted the voting now, so that will also enhance our chances of victory: G. Parameshwara, Congress

— Counting halted in UP: BSP files complaint with EC saying MLAs Nitin Agarwal and Anil Singh did not show votes to polling agents before casting their vote. Both these MLAs are believed to have cross-voted. BSP wants them disqualified.

— Counting halted in Karnataka: Minister Kagodu took two ballot papers. Apparently, he had voted for a different Congress candidate from the one allotted. He asked for a different ballot paper. JDS objected. Sanjiv Kumar has asked EC Delhi to clarify. Waiting for their decision.

— Arun Jaitley elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh

— BJP's Saroj Pandey wins Rajya Sabha Election from Chhattisgarh by beating Congress' Lekhram Sahu.

Here are the top 10 developments in the Rajya Sabha elections 2018 with a prestige contest in UP underway.

1) Counting of votes halted

#UttarPradesh: Election Commission has not given permission to begin the counting of votes for Rajya Sabha election due to some objections in ballot papers. Counting to begin only after EC gives clearance.

— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 23, 2018

Voting for #RajyaSabha polls begin

Read @ANI story | https://t.co/wJ6Nth5eTo pic.twitter.com/rQu24pCpiS

— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) March 23, 2018

#RajyaSabha election: All India Congress Committee gives memorandum to EC requesting it to issue directions to the concerned Returning Officer to cancel vote cast by Jharkhand Vikas Morcha MLA Prakash Ram alleging he intentionally didn't show ballot paper&concealed marked column.

— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2018

2) JD(S) alleges 'illegal voting' in Karnataka: Further incidents of cross-voting and even alleged irregularities were reported during the Rajya Sabha elections 2018. Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy told news agencies in Karnataka that two senior Congress leaders had cross-voted in the first ballot paper; however, the returning officer allowed them to vote again in fresh ballot paper.   

"Illegal voting is going on," said Kumaraswamy, adding that he had requested the Election Commission observer "to counter-mandate the process". 

Two senior Congress leaders cross voted in the first ballot paper. Returning officer allowed them to vote again in fresh ballot paper. Illegal voting is going on, requested EC Observer to counter mandate the process: HD Kumaraswamy, JDS on #rajyasabhaelections in Karnataka pic.twitter.com/EulSrcER6G

— ANI (@ANI) March 23, 2018

3) BSP MLA votes for BJP: In a jolt to the BSP, its legislator Anil Singh today cross-voted in favour of BJP candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections 2018 currently underway in Uttar Pradesh. Talking to the media after casting his vote, Singh, who met chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday night, said he voted for the BJP because of his "antaratma ki awaaz" (inner call).

"My inside asked me to vote for the BJP," the legislator from Purwa in Unnao said. 

His move sent shock waves in the Opposition camp, especially the BSP, which is counting on each vote to get its lone candidate Bhim Rao Ambedkar elected to the Upper House of Parliament.  

4) SP MLA votes for BJP: Samajwadi Party legislator from Hardoi, Nitin Agarwal, also voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates. His father Naresh Agarwal joined the BJP earlier this month. 

Nitin Agarwal told the media that people would punish the unholy alliance between the SP and the BSP. "The SP preferred a person who entertains the society (Jaya Bachchan) over a person who serves the society (Naresh Agarwal) which is very unfortunate," he said, predicting that all the nine BJP candidates would win.

5) Ram Gopal Yadav says BJP MLAs will cross-vote in SP's favour: With the Uttar Pradesh Rajya Sabha polls 2018 turning into a prestige contest, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav today told news agencies that there would be no cross-voting from his party in the BJP's favour. However, Yadav claimed that BJP MLAs would cross-vote in the SP's favour. 

There will be no cross-voting, but yes BJP MLAs will cross-vote in our favour: Ram Gopal Yadav, SP #RajyaSabhaElections pic.twitter.com/ArFOIH26XE

— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 23, 2018

6) BJP confident of winning all nine RS seats from UP: Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya today told news agencies that the BJP would win all the nine Rajya Sabha seats where it has fielded candidates. "Nine more BJP candidates will make entry to the RajyaSabha from Uttar Pradesh this time," added Maurya.  

BJP will win all the nine Rajya Sabha seats where we have fielded our candidates. Nine more BJP candidates will make entry to #RajyaSabha from #UttarPradesh this time: Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya pic.twitter.com/7w4IWoWFRW

— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 23, 2018

7) BJP turns Rajya Sabha polls in UP into battle for prestige: In UP, the BJP's decision to field an extra candidate has transformed the routine Rajya Sabha election into a prestige contest, which will have ramifications for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.  

The BJP, which can get eight candidates elected easily based on its strength in the Assembly, has raised the stakes by fielding a ninth candidate.

Now, faced with the task of getting nine more votes to its extra 28 first preference votes it has, apart from those required for its eight candidates, which includes Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, it is eyeing independents and some disgruntled elements in the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party who may be persuaded to cross vote.  

The BJP and its allies have 324 MLAs in the 403-member UP Assembly after the death of its Noorpur MLA in a road accident recently. To secure a win in this Rajya Sabha election, a candidate needs 37 first preference votes. Arithmetically, the BJP can easily win eight of the 10 seats and will be left with 28 surplus votes.  

"There will be contest on the ninth seat," a senior UP BJP leader said, exuding confidence that the saffron party would bag nine seats. 

8) SP looks to return BSP's favour: SP has again fielded actress-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan. The Akhilesh Yadav-led party has 10 extra votes and would like to reciprocate the favour of one-time arch-rival Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party's support in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls helped the SP trounce the BJP. 

However, SP legislator from Hardoi, Nitin Agarwal, son of habitual political grasshopper Naresh Agarwal, has thrown his weight behind the BJP, soon after his father crossed over to the party. 

9) Mayawati anxious about cross-voting by BSP MLAs: With just 19 legislators, Mayawati needs 18 more votes to get her sole candidate, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, to the Rajya Sabha. The SP's nine votes, the Congress' seven, and one of the Rashtriya Lok Dal make 17 votes for her candidate. However, Mayawati's aide told news agencies that challenges of defection and cross-voting were looming large on her mind. 

Leaving nothing to chance, even the probability of any of her own legislators ditching the party candidate, she was reportedly set to meet them over dinner on Thursday to ensure that all was in place. 

Her anxiety could be real. Some SP leaders and lawmakers, including Azam Khan, his son and legislator Abdulla Azam, and even Akhilesh Yadav's estranged uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, did not turn up at the meeting of the party legislators called by the party chief on Wednesday. While they explained different reasons for their absence and vouched for their loyalty to the party, Akhilesh Yadav is taking no chances. He publicly showed affection and regard for Shivpal Yadav at the Wednesday dinner at a five-star hotel.  

10) SP looks for clean transfer of votes to BSP with 2019 LS polls in mind: With the stakes high in the Rajya Sabha polls 2018, the Samajwadi Party is keen to ensure a clean transfer of vote to Mayawati's candidate as this would be a big stepping stone to further parleys for a possible alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.  

BSP, on its part, is waiting for the SP to deliver as the Gorakhpur-Phulpur 'electoral understanding' was largely arrived at keeping the Rajya Sabha polls in mind.  

Congress throws its weight behind Mayawati: The Congress, which has just seven legislators, has pledged support to the BSP candidate. The Opposition party is also on its toes to ensure that there is no cross-voting. State party chief Raj Babbar, and party veterans Pramod Tiwari and P L Punia, are in town to ensure that the flock sticks together and that there is no breach in Opposition unity.  

BJP fields 18 candidates: The BJP has fielded 18 candidates for the biennial polls. They include Anil Baluni, the national head of the BJP's media wing, from Uttarakhand, and Saroj Pandey, the BJP general secretary, from Chhattisgarh. Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda has filed nomination papers as the BJP candidate from Himachal Pradesh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will contest from Uttar Pradesh, and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Bihar.  

The BJP has also fielded Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot from Madhya Pradesh for another Rajya Sabha term. 

Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya and Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala will contest from Gujarat. 

Mamata Banerjee to back Congress candidate in Bengal: From the Congress, Naranbhai Rathwa and Amee Yajnik are contesting from Gujarat and Dhiraj Prasad is contesting from Jharkhand. Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Lekhram Sahu are contesting from Bihar and Chhattisgarh, respectively, while Rajmani Patel, Kumar Ketkar, Porika Bairam Naik, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi are contesting from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, and West Bengal, respectively. 

Mahendra Prasad Singh and Bashistha Narain Singh are the Janata Dal (United) candidates for the polls. 
In Uttar Pradesh, both the ruling BJP and the Opposition have had their share of anxious moments because the BJP's decision to field an extra candidate has transformed the routine election into a prestige contest. The BJP is eyeing independents and some disgruntled elements in the SP and BSP who might be persuaded to cross-vote.  

In all, there are 11 candidates, including Jaitley, in the fray for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh for which polling is taking place today. The BJP has filed 18 candidates for the biennial polls. 

Counting of votes will begin on Friday from 5 pm onwards. The results of the Rajya Sabha polls 2018 are expected to be announced the same evening. 

Three nominated members -- actress Rekha, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, and social worker Anu Aga -- will retire in April. 

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel