The Rajya Sabha election in Jharkhand has taken an interesting turn, with two multi-millionaire candidates -- one each from ruling BJP and Congress -- pitted against one another for the single seat.
The Rajya Sabha election in Jharkhand has taken an interesting turn, with two multi-millionaire candidates — one each from ruling BJP and Congress — pitted against one another for the single seat. On March 23, polling will be held for two Rajya Sabha seats in the state. Of the two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates, the victory of Sameer Oraon is a foregone conclusion, given the party’s favourable numbers in the assembly. But for its second nominee, multi-millionaire Pradeep Senthalia, the party needs to win over the Independent legislators and dent opposition unity.
In their nomination paper, while Senthalia has declared cash and assets worth Rs 28 crore in his and his wife’s name, Congress’s Dheeraj Sahu has declared cash and assets worth Rs 18 crore in his and his wife’s name. Both are well-known businessmen of Jharkhand. Oraon declared a Rs 13.80 lakh-worth vehicle, Rs 2 lakh in his bank account, Rs 35,000 in cash and jewellery worth Rs 90,000. All the three candidates filed their nomination papers on Monday.
In the past, Jharkhand had earned a bad name for reported horse trading during the Rajya Sabha polls. A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe is still going on over allegation of some legislators taking money to vote in favour of certain candidates during the 2010 and 2012 Upper House polls. Even the 2016 Rajya Sabha election was marred by controversies as a police officer’s name had surfaced for influencing legislators in favour of the BJP nominee.
In the 82-member assembly, a contestant needs at least 27 votes to win. The ruling BJP has 43 and four votes would come from its ally All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). For the second candidate, the BJP has support of 20 legislators. For the rest, the BJP is depending on the Independents and legislators from smaller parties who number seven. State BJP President Lakshman Giluwa said on Monday that the legislators would listen to their conscience and vote for the party candidate.
Congress’s Sahu is supported by the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and some others. The JMM has 18 legislators and Congress seven. The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajantarik (JVM-P) with its two legislators is also likely to back Sahu. In 2016, the BJP had won both Rajya Sabha seats by denting the opposition unity.