Suspense over six Maharashtra, two Haryana RS seats continues

The counting for six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra and two in Haryana were held up for more than six hours. In Mumbai, BJP questioned the validity of ballots cast by three MLAs of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, alleging that rules were violated. The MVA too sought to invalidate two votes, one by a BJP MLA and another by an Independent. The BJP challenged the votes cast by cabinet ministers Jitendra Awhad (NCP), Yashomati Thakur (Congress) and Sena legislator Suhas Kande. The saffron party alleged that Awhad and Thakur handed over their ballots to their party agents instead of only showing them the ballots, while Kande showed his ballot to two different agents. In Chandigarh, BJP objected to two MLAs allegedly ‘showing’ their ballots.

The election to the 16 Rajya Sabha seats — six in Maharashtra, four each in Rajasthan and Karnataka and two in Haryana – was reminiscent of the hotly contested 2017 Rajya Sabha election fought by Congress veteran Ahmed Patel. The Election Commission’s order of declaring votes of two Congress MLAs invalid after they had shown their ballot paper to BJP’s election agent had paved the way for Patel’s fifth term in the Rajya Sabha. A similar situation emerged in Haryana when BJP and an independent candidate supported by it approached the Election Commission to declare votes of two Congress MLAs Kiran Choudhary and B B Batra as invalid as they had shown their ballot papers to “unauthorised persons”.

Of the 90 MLAs in Haryana assembly, 89 had cast their votes and Independent legislator Balraj Kundu had abstained. Congress candidate Ajay Maken, however, urged the chief election commissioner to declare the results, terming the allegations levelled by the BJP and the Independent candidate “false and frivolous”. The Congress, however, petitioned the Election Commission that the returning officer had rejected the objections raised by Sharma and the BJP as there was no breach of secrecy.

At least 41 candidates have been elected unopposed. Eleven candidates from UP, including eight from the BJP, three supported by the Samajwadi Party were elected unopposed. The three SP-supported candidates include former Congressman Kapil Sibal and RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary. BJP had rewarded veteran leaders like Laxmikant Vajpayee and five time Gorakhpur (sadar) MLA Radhamohan Das Agarwal as he had vacated his seat for CM Yogi Adityanath to contest in the recent assembly polls. BJP currently had 22 MPs in the upper house from UP, out of which 5 will retire on July 4. With eight MPs being elected unopposed, the party’s strength has gone up from 22 to 25.

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