Rajya Sabha election 2020: Stage set for polling to fill 18 seats, close contest likely in Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan

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Updated: Jun 19, 2020 7:38 AM

Rajya Sabha Election Date, Rajya Sabha Chunav: Election to fill the 19 vacant Rajya Sabha seats will take place on June 19.

rajya sabha election 2020, rajya sabha election resultRajya Sabha election: Polling to fill 18 seats on June 19. (File pic)

Rajya Sabha Election 2020: The stage is set for election to 19 Rajya Sabha seats on June 19. The 19 seats are spread across seven states — four each in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, three each in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two in Jharkhand and one each in Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram. The polling will begin at 9 am and conclude at 4 pm. The counting of the votes will be done on the same day at 5 pm.

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are likely to see a close contest as the two parties — BJP and Congress are engaged in a fierce battle to win maximum seats.

Four candidates from Karnataka — former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, BJP candidates Iranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti are in the fray for four seats. Polling in the southern state is all set to be an unanimous affair. Karnataka Legislative Assembly Secretary MK Vishalakshi, who is the returning officer for the polls, had earlier declared the candidature of Gowda and Kharge from JD(S) and Congress, and BJP candidates’ as validly nominated.

Similar is the situation in Arunachal Pradesh where the ruling BJP nominee Nabam Rebia won the lone Rajya Sabha seat unopposed. Rebia, who represented the northeastern state in the Rajya Sabha for two consecutive terms from 1996 to 2002 and 2002 to 2008 as Congress candidate, was declared winner after the withdrawal of nominations ended.

June 19 elections would be significant because it will be the first such electoral process ever since the coronavirus outbreak. Although MLC elections in Maharashtra were held in May, the entire process was merely a formality and no physical polling was required. The Rajya Sabha elections were earlier slated for March 26, but the Election Commission had to postpone it due to the pandemic. Of the 19 seats, 18 seats are part of the 55 Rajya Sabha seats which fell vacant earlier this year. Out of these 55 seats, 37 were filled uncontested. The ECI later announced polls for fours seats in Karnataka and one seat each in Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Election Commission has said that elaborate arrangements are in place for the smooth conduct of polling and all COVID preventive measures will be followed during the exercise.

In Madhya Pradesh, the ruling BJP and Congress have announced two candidates each for the state’s three seats. Going by the current arithmetic, the BJP is likely to win two seats and the Congress will have to settle with one. While Jyotiraditya Scindia of the BJP and Digvijaya Singh of the Congress are expected to comfortably win in the polls, BJP’s Sumer Singh Solanki and Phool Singh Baraiya of the Congress are likely to slug it out for the third seat.

In Gujarat, the ruling BJP and opposition Congress have fielded five candidates for the four seats. The BJP has fielded Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramilaben Bara and Narhari Amin while Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki are in the fray from the Congress. The Congress in Gujarat is hit by a series of resignations, dampening its prospect of winning two seats. Although the MLAs have been kept at three different resorts to thwart more resignations, the BJP is banking on Congress rebellion to win three seats.

In Rajasthan, the Congress has managed to keep its flock intact as it moves its MLAs and those supporting the government to a luxury hotel soon after reports of resentment were reported. The Congress has accused the BJP of offering Rs 25 crore to MLAs to resign from the House. The Congress and BJP have fielded two candidates each for three Rajya Sabha berths. The Congress has nominated party general secretary KC Venugopal and state general secretary Neeraj Dangi. The opposition BJP has named Rajendra Gehlot as its candidate. The saffron party has also fielded its senior leader Omkar Singh Lakhawat. Although chances of cross-voting appears to be thin, the BJP is expecting to cash in on the factionalism within the Congress by fielding Lakhawat.

For the two seats in Jharkhand, the ruling JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has fielded JMM chief Shibu Soren and Shahzada Anwar of the Congress. The BJP has nominated its state unit president Deepak Prakash. In the current Assembly that has 81 seats, the JMM led ruling coalition has 46 MLAs and the BJP and AJSU have 28 MLAs. BJP nominee Deepak Prakash enjoys the support of 29 legislators, 26 of his own party, including Babulal Marandi, two of AJSU and one Independent. The chance of the Congress candidate appears dim.

In Manipur, the BJP has fielded titular king Leisemba Sanajaoba and the Congress has nominated T Mangi Babu. The BJP is unlikely to win because 9 MLAs have withdrawn their support. This includes resignations of three BJP MLAs.

In Meghalaya, the ruling National People’s Party has fielded Wanwei Roy Kharlukhi while the opposition Congress has nominated Kennedy Cornelius Khyiem. Assembly arithmetic shows that Kharlukhi has an upper hand over Khyiem as the NPP led alliance has 39 MLAs in the 60-member House. The opposition Congress led alliance has 21 members.

In Mizoram, polling will take place for one seat which is witnessing a triangular contest. The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) has fielded the party’s national core committee member K Kanlalvena, while the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and the Congress nominated B Lalchhanzova and Lallianchhunga respectively. In the 40-member Mizoram Assembly, the MNF has 27 members, ZPM seven, Congress five and the BJP has one MLA.

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