Big upset for Cong in Himachal, wins 3 seats in Karnataka

Bengaluru/Lucknow: The Congress suffered a major upset in Himachal Pradesh at the hands of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha elections which were marred by cross-voting in all three states though it won three seats in Karnataka while the saffron party is set to win big in Uttar Pradesh.

Polling was held for 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh, four in Karnataka and one seat in Himachal Pradesh. On February 20, 41 candidates including BJP chief J P Nadda, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and L Murugan were elected unopposed to the Upper House.

Himachal Pradesh saw cross-voting that led to the victory of BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan over Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Mahajan was declared the winner by draw of lots after both the candidates were tied, securing 34 votes each.

The result made it clear that nine MLAs voted in favour of the BJP. At present, the Congress has 40 MLAs, and BJP 25 while three are independents in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly.

There was high drama in Uttar Pradesh where amid concerns over cross-voting, SP chief whip Manoj Pandey quit while polling was underway. As many as eight SP MLAs also did not attend a meeting called by the Yadav on Monday.

In Karnataka, five candidates were in the fray for the four seats, including D Kupendra Reddy JD(S). Those elected are Ajay Maken, G C Chandrasekhar Syed Naseer Hussain (all Congress), and Narayana K Bhandage of the BJP.

The election was marred by cross-voting as BJP MLA S T Somashekar voted for Maken, while another party legislator A Shivaram Hebbar abstained from voting.

Somashekar said he listened to the “voice of his conscience” and voted in favor of the Congress “which built schools and carried out developmental works in his constituency”. Hebbar too abstained from voting adhering to his conscience, he said.

In Uttar Pradesh, the ruling BJP and the principal opposition SP have the numbers in the assembly to send seven and three members respectively unopposed to the Rajya Sabha, but the BJP fielded an eighth candidate, making the contest interesting.

The candidates fielded by the BJP are: 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 (Bind), party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, former MLA Sadhna Singh, former Agra mayor Naveen Jain and industrialist Sanjay Seth.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded actor-MP Jaya Bachchan, retired IAS officer Alok Ranjan and Dalit leader Ramji Lal Suman. Seth, a former SP leader, joined the BJP in 2019. Any cross-voting by SP legislators could get Seth elected.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav warned that strict action will be taken against such MLAs.

“Those who wanted to profit from the situation will go. Those given assurances (by the BJP) will go,” he told reporters at the assembly premises before casting his vote.

“The BJP can adopt all tricks to win elections. It must have given assurance (to some MLAs) of some profit… BJP will do anything to win,” he added.

BJP leader Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya claimed Yadav made a mistake by fielding his third candidate and he does not the numbers.

On February 20, the BJP won 20 seats unopposed, followed by the Congress (6), Trinamool Congress (4), YSR Congress (3), RJD (2), BJD (2) and NCP, Shiv Sena, BRS and JD(U) one each.

Nadda and the party’s other nominees Jasvantsinh Parmar, Mayank Nayak and diamond baron Govindbhai Dholakia were declared winners from Gujarat.

From Rajasthan, Sonia Gandhi was elected unopposed so were BJP’s Chunnilal Garasiya and Madan Rathore.

All the six candidates from Maharashtra — BJP’s Chavan, who joined the party only last Tuesday after quitting the Congress, Medha Kulkarni and Ajit Gopchhade; Shiv Sena’s Milind Deora, who also resigned from the Congress last month, Praful Patel (NCP) and Chandrakant Handore (Cong) were elected unopposed.

In Bihar, JD(U)’s Sanjay Kumar Jha, BJP’s Dharmshila Gupta and Bhim Singh, Manoj Kumar Jha and Sanjay Yadav (both RJD) and Akhilesh Prasad Singh (Congress) were declared winners.

TMC’s Sushmita Dev, Sagarika Ghose, Mamata Thakur and Md Nadimul Haque and Samik Bhattacharya (BJP) were declared winners from West Bengal.

Union minister Murugan, Valmiki Dham Ashram head Umesh Nath Maharaj, Kisan Morcha’s national vice president Banshilal Gurjar, and Madhya Pradesh BJP’s women wing president Maya Naroliya bagged four seats for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh while Ashok Singh of the Congress also got elected unopposed.

From Odisha, Union minister Vaishnaw (BJP) and BJD’s Debashish Samantray and Subhashish Khuntia were declared winners.

The YSR Congress won all three seats in Andhra Pradesh – G Babu Rao, Y V Subba Reddy, and M Raghunath Reddy while in neighbouring Telangana, the ruling Congress bagged two seats – Renuka Chowdhury and Anil Kumar Yadav – and BRS one seat – V Ravichandra.

BJP nominees in Uttarakhand (Mahendra Bhatt), Subhash Barala (Haryana), Devendra Pratap Singh (Chhattisgarh) were elected unopposed.