By G Krishna Mohan Rao
Congress moves its MLAs into camp hotels before Rajya Sabha polls
New Delhi: With the withdrawal date for candidates ending this Friday evening for the Rajya Sabha biennial elections, the battle lines are drawn among the political parties for the polls on June 10, 2022.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is sitting comfortably with regards to the winning of its candidates, while the Congress Party is facing a lot of internal bickering in several states like Rajasthan, Haryana, and Maharashtra which may prove fatal.
The Congress Party had already moved its MLAs into two camp hotels in Udaipur and Raipur. There is a lot of discontent among the senior leaders in the Congress over the selection of the Rajya Sabha candidates as many feel that the spirit of the recent Chintan Shivir resolution of Udaipur was not followed. There are murmurs in the party that seniors like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma were not accommodated for Rajya Sabha among the 10 candidates. Party sources say that Sonia Gandhi had offered the second position in the party organisation to Gulam Nabi Azad but later learnt to have rejected the offer.
In a normal course, all the three nominees of the Congress Party in Rajasthan would have won comfortably, as the party enjoys comfortable members, but the ruling Congress here is facing dissent against the leadership for fielding all the three candidates who belonged to outside Rajasthan. The “outsider” charge refers to Mukul Wasnik ( Maharashtra), Pramod Tiwari (Uttar Pradesh) and Randeep Surjewala (Haryana) who are in the fray. Many leaders at the state level feel that at least one Rajya Sabha nominee should have been from the local Rajasthan state.
The same is the case with regard to Haryana where the Congress put up Ajay Maken, who is from Delhi. Many Congress MLAs opposed the outsider. Similarly in Maharashtra, from the sole seat available for the Congress, the party fielded Imran Pratapgarhi, who is a poet from Uttar Pradesh and currently in charge of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) minorities department. This led Maharashtra general secretary Ashish Deshmukh to resign to protest against Pratapgarhi and a few other leaders tweeted expressing displeasure. Former Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, said that he was not able to meet Rahul Gandhi for the last four years.
It has become more prestigious for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot than the Congress party in ensuring the victory of all the three Congress candidates in Rajasthan. As a precaution, Gehlot already moved his MLAs from Jaipur into a camp at a hotel in Udaipur. In Rajasthan, there are four vacancies and there are five candidates. The BJP at the last minute extended its support to media baron Subhash Chandra who is contesting as an independent.
Similarly, in Haryana 28 Congress MLAs were air-lifted to the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh as a precautionary measure. The party just has the number required to get its candidate Ajay Maken elected. But sensing a vulnerability in the Opposition party, the BJP has fielded a resourceful businessman who has the support of its ally, the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), and also some independents. The BJP hopes that it can wean away enough MLAs from Congress to get Kartikeya Sharma elected.
There is an apprehension in the Congress camp that some senior party legislators, who are against the former Bhupender Singh Hooda group may play some dirty games. An influential leader and son of former CM Bhajan Lal, Kuldeep Bishnoi along with Kiran Chaudhry did not go to the Raipur camp. BJP has 40 MLAs and will have nine surplus votes for the second candidate. There are 10 of JJP, seven Independents and one each from Haryana Lok hit party and Indian National Lok Dal party. Around three defections from Congress, it is believed, will see the BJP supported candidate through, or else Congress will manage to make it.
With regards to Karnataka, there are as many as six candidates in the fray for four seats in the state. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Cine star Jaggesh and Industrialist Lehar Singh are fielded from the BJP side. While from Congress, Jairam Ramesh and Mansur Ali Khan are in the fray. From the Janata Dal (Secular) former MP Kupendra Reddy is also contesting. In the Karnataka State Assembly the ruling BJP has 122 legislators, while the main Opposition, Congress, has 71 MLAs and the JD (s) has got 32 legislators. To win, each candidate should get 45 votes and the BJP has got only 32 additional votes. In other words, to ensure the victory of its third candidate, the BJP requires 13 votes. The Congress which fielded two candidates has got only 26 excess votes and to ensure the victory of their second candidate it requires 19 votes.
The BJP is apparently not leaving any stone unturned to ensure the victory of its third candidate and it appointed Union culture minister G Kishan Reddy to be its observer and brought “conscience vote” onto the scene. Former CM, Yediyurappa is confident of BJP winning three seats while the former Prime minister Deve Gowda is also confident of his JD(S) candidate’s victory.