Rajya Sabha Election 2020: BJP eyes gains in MP amid Congress’ discord within

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Published: March 5, 2020 1:52 PM

The BJP is putting up a tough fight on the seats where a contest is expected in the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for March 26.

Maharashtra Budget session, BJP, Maharashtra Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress, BJP, Ajit PawarThree Rajya Sabha seats are falling vacant in the state and they are currently held by Digvijaya Singh (Congress), Satyanarayan Jatiya and Prabhat Jha (both from BJP).

The recent developments in Madhya Pradesh which potentially put the 14-month old Kamal Nath government at risk could end up benefitting the Bharatiya Janata Party in more ways than one could imagine. While it is evident that the wafer-thin majority that the Congress enjoys in MP makes Kamal Nath look perpetually vulnerable, there are indications to suggest that the political drama unfolding in Madhya Pradesh has more than meets the eye.

As per a prominent Congress leader’s own admission, the mini rebellion of sorts by his party’s MLAs poses no threat whatsoever to the stability of the government. On the other hand, as per this leader’s own claims, the “fight is about an entry into the Rajya Sabha”.

“The government of Kamal Nath is absolutely safe. The entire fight is about gaining entry into Rajya Sabha. You are wise enough to understand,” MP minister Umang Singhar, a known critic of senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, tweeted on Wednesday.

Three Rajya Sabha seats are falling vacant in the state and they are currently held by Digvijaya Singh (Congress), Satyanarayan Jatiya and Prabhat Jha (both from BJP).

Congress’ factional wars

Congress has been ridden with factionalism with different groups owing allegiance to different leaders. Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia have long been sworn rivals. Their fight played out in public when Scindia was overlooked for the Chief Minister’s post despite him putting his foot down.

Later, he was also denied the post of MP Congress chief which is also held by the chief minister. Since then, Scindia has been critical of the state government and even went against the party line on a number of issues, including the abrogation of Article 370 which Congress had opposed in Parliament.

Nath and Digvijaya, both seasoned Congress leaders, are not known to see eye to eye. Digvijaya, once a close confidante of the party high command, has since fallen out of favour. This was visible when despite his objections, he was fielded by the party from Bhopal, a seat Congress has failed to wrestle from BJP for decades and lost again in 2019. Nath was instrumental in getting Singh to contest from the state capital.

Advantage BJP in Rajya Sabha?

Faced with successive setbacks in state Assembly elections, the BJP desperately needs to do well in the upcoming elections in order to get a better hold in the Rajya Sabha. Despite having managed to get crucial bills to pass muster in the Upper House, it has grown increasingly dependent on smaller parties. This is something that the BJP is looking to change and is hoping to capitalise on the discord among Congress leaders, which played out in the last 48 hours.

BJP leaders told The Indian Express that the party has set its sight on winning 17-18 seats in the elections scheduled for March 26, against the estimate of 13 seats that it is expected to win unopposed. Of the three seats where a contest is expected — one each in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand — the BJP leadership has already begun negotiations for winning at least two, the report said.

The BJP is taking a cue from the discord within Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh which have been linked to the Rajya Sabha elections. A BJP leader told The Indian Express that the party is sure of winning one seat in the state, “but we have not given up on a second seat too”.

The BJP-led NDA currently has 97 MPs against a sanctioned strength of 245 (233 elected and 12 nominated). An improved tally in the Upper House is crucial for the BJP to implement its reforms agenda over the coming years, some of which may not be to the liking of the Opposition.

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