Forty-one candidates across party lines from 11 states were declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha on Friday, the last date for withdrawal of candidature for the crucial elections to the Upper House of Parliament next week.
Elections to 57 seats in Rajya Sabha, spread across 15 states and Union territories, are slated to be held on June 10. Keen contests in Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra are on the cards as none of the candidates withdrew their candidatures on the last day.
All the 11 candidates in Uttar Pradesh, six in Tamil Nadu, five in Bihar, four in Andhra Pradesh, three each in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, two each in Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Telangana and Jharkhand and one candidate in Uttarakhand won without a contest.
P Chidambaram and Rajiv Shukla of the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Sumitra Valmiki and Kavita Patidar, former Congress leader Kapil Sibal, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)’s Misa Bharti and Jayant Chaudhary of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) were among those who were elected unopposed to the Upper House.
High voltage contests are expected for four seats in Rajasthan and two in Haryana, with an uneasy Congress in Rajasthan corralling its MLAs into hotels in Udaipur and Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur.
Till Friday, hectic parleys were being held in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka as parties pressed each other to drop their candidates to avoid any contest. In Maharashtra, talks between the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and BJP to avoid the elections proved to be futile, according to people aware of the developments. The MVA, comprising the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, has fielded four candidates. The BJP, on the other hand, has fielded three candidates, including Union minister Piyush Goyal.
A delegation led by senior NCP leader and Maharashtra food and civil supplies minister Chhagan Bhujbal met leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Friday morning with a request to avoid elections, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
“The MVA wanted us to withdraw our third candidate and in return said it would not field their fifth candidate in the legislative council elections which are slated to be held immediately after the Rajya Sabha polls. In response, we said we would not field our fifth candidate in the council polls if they withdrew their fourth candidate in the Rajya Sabha. Since both sides are ready to give up a seat in the Rajya Sabha polls, the elections are inevitable now,” Patil said.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has called for a meeting of the MVA MLAs next week in the presence of key leaders from the three ruling parties, the people cited above said.
In Karnataka, the Congress on Friday decided to retain its second candidate for the polls, indicating a breakdown of talks between the party and former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president H D Deve Gowda. There are four vacancies in the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka and all three major political parties – BJP, Congress and JD(S) – have fielded a total of six candidates.
“Why should we withdraw our nomination? We have put up a (second) candidate because we think we can win. If legislators vote with their conscience, we will win,” leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said.
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