NATIONAL POLITICS: Rajya Sabha elections – Mallya, Venkaiah, Paswan, Rudy win – increasing consensus for the longstanding just & constitutional ‘Gorkha Cause’ ?!!
From NDTV Correspondent
Patna, Jaipur, June 17, 2010 17:11 IST: The biggies are cruising into the Rajya Sabha. Vijay Mallya has won a seat from Karnataka as an Independent candidate backed by friends-turned-foes, JD(S) and the BJP. In Bihar, Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Ram Kripal Yadav of the RJD, RP Singh of the Janata Dal and BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy have won.
BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu and Ayanur Maruthi have also made it to the Upper House from Karnataka, easily as expected, as has Oscar Fernandes of the Congress.
Mallya pulled a rabbit out of the hat by making JD(S) Karnataka state chief HD Kumaraswamy and Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa shake hands over his candidature, if only to keep the Congress out. This is a sight unseen since the JD(S) and BJP fell out when their coalition government failed. They managed to ensure the Congress’s second candidate, TV Manjunath, was defeated.
In Bihar, Paswan, a former Union Minister, will heave a sigh of relief, having been out in the cold ever since he lost the Lok Sabha elections in 2009. There was cross-voting in the state with four out of five BSP MLA s voting for the RJD.
But all eyes have been on the four seats in Rajasthan, where the Congress and the BJP have accused each other of horse-trading. Elections are also being held to three seats in Orissa and two in Jharkhand. Forty-nine seats in 12 states were to be vacated in the Upper House, but 21 Rajya Sabha MPs of various parties had already been elected unopposed. On Thursday, elections are being held to 18 seats in five states.
The most interesting battle is that of Ram Jethmalani, a rank outsider contesting for the BJP from Rajasthan. Partymen in the state are not very convinced and the BJP has had to lock up its 79 MLAs in a luxury resort to stop them from cross-voting. BJP MLAs have objected to Jethmalani’s candidature for his having defended Parliament-attack-accused Afzal Guru. The 86-year-old Jethmalani was seen canvassing hard with the locked-up MLAs. The BJP may need the support of some independents to see Jethmalani through.
It is Rajasthan that has thrown up all the action usually not associated with the genteel process of electing Elders. As charges of horsetrading fly, the BJP held two full dress rehearsals on Wednesday for all its MLAs to cast their votes properly. Adding to the party’s woes, at least five MLAs goofed up in casting their vote during the training session. The electoral arithmetic in Rajasthan is such that even a single vote miscast can spell doom for the BJP.
Several BJP MLAs, locked up in a resort since Monday, have accused not just the ruling Congress, but also bureaucrats, of telephoning them to switch sides.
Vijay Bansal, the BJP MLA from Bharatpur says, “Bureaucrats have been ringing us asking us to talk to the Chief Minister. They say all our work will be done in the future and if our party expels us, they will get us a Congress ticket in the next elections. Adds Hanuman Beniwal, the BJP’s Nagaur MLA, “the Congress chaps are trying to tempt us with money, others are offering us election ticket in the future.”
Rubbish, says the Congress. “For the past three-four days all that we are hearing is that the BJP has locked up all its MLAs like a herd. This shows that they have no trust in their own MLAs. What can be more unfortunate than this mistrust?” asks Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
But beyond the words and the bluster, with discontentment over candidates in each party, both camps are tense.
In Rajasthan, Congressman Santosh Bagrodia is contesting as an Independent. The Congress does not have the votes to send him to Rajya Sabha and the BJP alleges he is trying to poach and get elected.
Also in Rajasthan, Anand Sharma is the only central minister who is having to battle for his Rajya Sabha seat. Sharma belongs to Haryana and has been politically active in Himachal Pradesh. The Rajasthan Congress, which views him as an outsider, is unhappy at him being fielded from the state.