BJP wins 22 seats in Rajya Sabha polls

BJP wins 22 seats in Rajya Sabha polls

The BJP's strength in state assembly suggested that the party could retain only 20 of the 24 Rajya Sabha seats it held in the biennial polls for 57 seats, but as the election process got over on Saturday, it won 22 and underlined its pull among unaffiliated legislators and disaffected lawmakers in the opposition camp.

The BJP's better than expected show is a boost to the ruling National Democratic Alliance ahead of the President's poll and is a blow to its rivals, as the Rajya Sabha elections have highlighted dissension and lack of cohesion in the opposition ranks from Maharashtra to Karnataka and Haryana.

The BJP's ambition to force a contest in these states besides Rajasthan by backing independents or putting its own candidates to benefit from division in the ranks of its rivals have paid dividends as it bagged one extra seat in all states except Rajasthan.

Former Congress veteran and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was not only able to keep the flock of supporting MLAs together, but also embarrassed the BJP by wooing over one of its MLAs to try and get an independent, outgoing MP and media entrepreneur Subhash Chandra elected.

The BJP sources said the party is pleased with the outcome, especially in Maharashtra where the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress suffered a setback despite being in power with three of the six seats at stake.

It is also a boost to BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who has had his share of setbacks since losing power in the state as he outmanoeuvred friend-turned foe Shiv Sena.

The party gained three of the four seats in Karnataka as it rivals the JD S and the Congress could not come to an agreement and fought separately and lost.

Congress veteran Bhupinder Singh Hooda suffered a blow as one of its MLAs, Kuldeep Bishnoi, voted for BJP-backed independent Kartikeya Sharma, a media entrepreneur, and the vote of another MLA turned out to be invalid.

The Rajya Sabha polls for 57 seats were held across 15 states. On Friday, there were 16 seats held in four states because of the presence of more contestants than the available vacancies in each of the 11 states that were unopposed, while 41 members in 11 states were elected unopposed.

The Rajya Sabha results are a moral booster for the ruling combine ahead of the presidential poll, which is scheduled for July 18 if more than one person is in fray.

The BJP-led alliance is estimated to have more than 48 per cent of votes in an electoral college of around 10.86 lakh votes and is hopeful that non-aligned regional parties like the YSR Congress and the BJD will support it.