Three-state boost and a downer: How BJP came out on top in Rajya Sabha polls

For the first time in its history, the BJP crossed the threshold of 100 MPs in the Rajya Sabha on March 31 Elections to the House of Lords will take place on Fridaybut in nerve-racking contests that went to the last detail, the ruling party in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Haryana each won a seat beyond its strength in the assemblies of those states.

BJP senior leaders and cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal won – the Union finance minister from Karnataka and her cabinet mate from Maharashtra – but the party suffered a major setback in Rajasthan, where it is preparing for next general election year has started Dholpur MLA Shobharani Kushwah voted for Congressional candidateresulting in the defeat of the party-backed independent candidate.

Of the 16 seats for which elections were held, the BJP won three each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, one in Rajasthan and two in Haryana. Among the two winners of Haryana is an independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma, who defeated senior Congressional leader Ajay Maken. Sharma, a media baron, was backed by the ruling BJP-Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) combine. After the arithmetic in the assemblies, the BJP should have won 20 seats but managed to bag 23.

After winning four seats out of 13 in the March 31 Upper House election, the BJP’s tally reached 101 (including nominated members). It was the first party to accomplish this feat since 1988. The number had dropped to 100 after the party’s Punjab MP Shwait Malik retired in April. With Friday’s victories, the party’s number of MPs in the Rajya Sabha will rise to 95. Their strength may increase again if the President nominates new members. There are currently seven vacant seats and nominated members can join the party in the Rajya Sabha within six months of their election.

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Karnataka and Rajasthan

In the southern state, all three BJP candidates won, although the party did not have sufficient numbers for the third candidate. A party source claimed the victory was due to “pocketing votes from both Congress and the JD(S).” According to the state’s party leaders, the result is a “morale boost” for Prime Minister Basavaraj Bommai and the party ahead of next year’s state elections.

“The victory has given the Chief Minister optimism and also shows the cooperation of the Chief Minister and his predecessor BS Yeddyurappa, who still has a strong influence on the party’s MLAs. This will dispel rumors that the BSY camp is upset that his son BY Vijayendra was denied an MLC seat,” said a leader close to Bommai. The CM had come under criticism for the debacle the party experienced in by-elections, including in his home district. “The other consequence will be the demoralization that would creep into the congressional camp – the blame game will dampen party spirit,” he added.

Karnataka Prime Minister Basavaraj Bommai with BJP candidates Jaggesh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Lehar Singh Siroya celebrate their victory in the 2022 Rajya Sabha elections. (PTI)

While the party’s strategy was successful in Karnataka, it could not prevail in Rajasthan, a state entity grappling with a deep internal rift. Senior BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari won a seat for the BJP in Rajasthan, but independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra failed to win despite intense efforts by the BJP leadership. According to sources, the BJP tried to get the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) to vote for Chandra, but its two MLAs sided with Congress. The party has sent Kushwah, their MLA from Dholpur, a complaint of cross-voting for congressional candidate Pramod Tiwari and violating the party whip.

The party leaders of the two factions in the unity of state were quick to indulge in a blame game, with both the official faction and the faction led by former Prime Minister Vasundhara Raje privately pointing fingers at each other. Sources said the Raje camp was “upset” after the BJP decided to nominate Tiwari, known for his rivalry with the former CM, for the upper house. The official faction claimed that Kushwah counter-voted at Raje’s behest. “This will continue unless the central leadership finds the root of this problem and takes action against those responsible,” said a party leader.

BJP Rajasthan President Satish Poonia and party candidate Ghanshyam Tiwari show the victory sign while celebrating his victory in the 2022 Rajya Sabha elections. (PTI)

Maharashtra and Haryana Stories

That Victory of his three candidates in Maharashtra After hours of uncertainty, the state seems excited to have exited BJP. “This is the first significant victory and a moral victory in a long time for the Maharashtra BJP over the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi,” a party source said. “Losing one of our candidates would have meant the BJP had learned nothing since 2019, when the Shiv Sena broke away and merged with the NCP and Congress to form the government. Despite all the massive efforts made by the party in the state, the BJP has not been able to come back politically since then. This will definitely keep the party back on track. Differences between leaders are also being diluted.”

In Haryana, the BJP and the JJP supported Kartikeya Sharma. The first reports of his loss sent “signs of despair” in party circles. “But it shows that our strategies have won – be it keeping our herd together and bridging rifts in the opposition camp,” said a party leader familiar with developments in the country.

Independent candidate Karthikya Sharma with his supporters after the announcement of the results of the Rajya Sabha elections at Haryana Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Relocation of the ECI

Ballot counting in Maharashtra and Haryana was delayed after the BJP contacted the Electoral Commission of India (ECI) and accused Congress of irregularities. The party went to the electoral body, alleging that Congressional MLAs BB Batra and Kiran Choudhry “compromised and distorted the electoral process by openly showing their ballots to anyone other than their own party election commissioner,” and the party claimed that the Election officials have allowed this to be cast as legal without even considering the facts presented at the Inquiry into The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, or consulting the EBI observers present on the spot.

The BJP pointed out that in the Ahmed Patel case in 2017, the EBI had clearly established that showing ballot papers to anyone other than the party’s returning officer invalidates the votes and the returning officer is obliged to annul such votes even if it did If so, place them in the ballot box and mark the votes so that they are not counted in the final count. The party wanted the ECI to investigate the matter and annul the votes.

A BJP leader familiar with how the party operates in Maharashtra said another complaint was filed in the state against Yashomati Thakur from Congress, Jitendra Awhad from the NCP and Suhas Kande from Shiv Sena over similar allegations.

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