Rajya Sabha elections today: Cross-voting fears cast a shadow over Opposition's chances

Elections will be held for 15 seats across Karnataka, UP and Himachal today

PTI09_21_2023_000060B Representation

The voting for the Rajya Sabha elections will be held on Tuesday for 15 seats across three states, amid fears of cross-voting. The elections are being held for 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh, four from Karnataka and one from Himachal Pradesh.

Things aren't looking rosy for the Samajwadi Party which is poised to win three seats. Of the 10, SP can win three, while BJP has the numbers to win unopposed in seven seats. But the BJP fielded a businessman-turned-politician Sanjay Seth in one of the seats. Seth is a former SP leader who switched to BJP five years ago.

To add to its woes, as many as eight MLAs of the Samajwadi Party did not attend a meeting called by party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday. A senior SP leader told PTI that Yadav had called the meeting to brief the MLAs about the voting process. However, chief whip of the party in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Manoj Pandey and seven other MLAs -- Mukesh Verma, Maharaji Prajapati, Pooja Pal, Rakesh Pandey, Vinod Chaturvedi, Rakesh Pratap Singh and Abhay Singh did not attend the meeting.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded actor-MP Jaya Bachchan, retired IAS officer Alok Ranjan and Dalit leader Ramji Lal Suman.

The BJP has fielded 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, party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, former MLA Sadhna Singh and former Agra mayor Naveen Jain. 

In Karnataka, the Congress has resorted to keeping its MLAs away in a hotel to avoid poaching amid cross-voting fears.  Five candidates -- Ajay Maken, Syed Naseer Hussain and G C Chandrasekhar (all Congress), Narayansa Bandage (BJP) and Kupendra Reddy (JD(S)) -- are in the fray. All parties have issued whips to the MLAs amid apprehensions of cross-voting.

The Congress is confident of winning three seats and the fourth one - G Janardhana Reddy (Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha) met the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday. Though the BJP-JD(S) combine can only win one out of the four seats, the combine fielded Kupendra Reddy.

In Himachal, the Congress is confident of the numbers to win the one Rajya Sabha seat but some leaders are not happy about the choice of senior party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.  The BJP has fielded former Congress leader Harsh Mahajan, hoping to cash in on any division within the Congress. 

Controversy ensued in Himachal after the BJP on Monday accused the ruling Congress of issuing whip to its members to pressurise them and maintained that the MLAs have been elected democratically and have the right to vote as per their wish. BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur said the ECI had made it clear that the whip can't be issued for the election and added that Congress has by issuing the whip shown its intention to pressurise the party legislators.

In the Upper House, the ruling BJP holds 28 of the 56 seats and is expected to have at least 29 after the election.  

Currently, the Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245. 

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