Rajya Sabha election result: BJP set to get working majority in Upper House

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday moved closer to a ‘working’ majority in the Rajya Sabha as it improved its tally from 58 to 68 seats.

Its biggest gains came from Uttar Pradesh. It won 9 of the 10 seats from the state for which voting and counting took place on Friday. The Samajwadi Party (SP)’s Jaya Bachchan won. But, Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP’s) Bhimrao Ambedkar, who had been assured support by the SP, Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RJD), lost because of cross-voting. BSP chief Mayawati had promised support to SP candidates in Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-elections in return for support to her candidate in the Rajya Sabha. Among the BJP’s winners was Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was earlier a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat.

At a meeting of the BJP parliamentary party here in the evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Opposition was spreading lies against his government out of frustration stemming from electoral losses. He asked BJP MPs to make better use of technology to take the truth to the people. Party chief Amit Shah asked MPs to hold press conferences in their constituencies to explain to the people how the Opposition was not letting Parliament run.

As for the Rajya Sabha polls, of the two seats in Jharkhand, the Congress candidate defeated the BJP’s by the thinnest of margins. The BJP won the other seat.

Of the four seats in Karnataka, the Congress won three seats, the third with the help of Janata Dal (Secular) rebels. The fourth seat was won by the BJP’s Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

The Congress lost seats in some states, but also gained in Bihar, Gujarat and Karnataka, which kept its tally at 54 seats in the Rajya Sabha. In West Bengal, Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi won with the help of the Trinamool Congress.

In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front ensured the victory of dissident Janata Dal (United) leader MP Veerendra Kumar.

Voting was held on Friday for 26 of the 59 seats which will fall vacant in April. Candidates for the rest of the 33 seats were elected unopposed on the last day of withdrawal of nominations for the election on March 15. The counting of votes was marred by controversies in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand, where elections were held for 10 seats, four seats and two seats, respectively. The SP lost the most number of seats, its tally coming down from 18 to 13. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti doubled its tally to six, while the RJD’s went up from three to five. After the Rajya Sabha polls, the BJP is still short of the halfway mark of 123 in the 245-member House, but can now muster a “working” majority with help of allies, friendly parties, some of the independents and nominated members.

Apart from the 68-odd seats the BJP has, its allies have 18 seats. Of the five independents, at least four are inclined towards the BJP. Of the 12 nominated, four have already officially joined the BJP. Of the rest, four are set to retire by June.

These four — Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha, Anu Aga and K Parasaran — were nominated during the UPA years. Apart from Parasaran, who retires in June, the other three retire on April 26.

The others among the nominated list are Swapan Dasgupta, Narendra Jadhav, KTS Tulsi and MC Mary Kom. Tulsi was sent to the Rajya Sabha by the UPA, while the current government nominated Mary Kom.

In recent months, the government has relied on the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (13 members), YSR Congress Party (2), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (6) and other smaller parties for support. The Telugu Desam Party (6) may have walked out of the NDA, but it could still support the government at critical junctures.

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