How Cross-Voting In Rajya Sabha Polls Has Shaken Up Parties

Unsurprisingly, the 16 votes went to Bharatiya Janata Party candidates, with the party now set to claim one additional seat in each state and receive a prestige boost ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

How Cross-Voting In Rajya Sabha Polls Has Shaken Up Parties

The INDIA bloc was formed last year to defeat the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha election (File).

New Delhi:

The INDIA bloc finished last week on a high after the Congress sealed a pan-India seat-share deal with the Aam Aadmi Party, and with the Samajwadi Party for Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the Lok Sabha election. The Congress-led bloc was also close to an accord with the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Nationalist Congress Party (SCP) in Maharashtra and reached out to Bengal's Trinamool.

Confidence, therefore, was high going into Tuesday's Rajya Sabha poll.

That confidence took a hit by close of voting after six Congress MLAs in Himachal Pradesh, as well as three independent MLAs, and seven Samajwadi Party lawmakers in Uttar Pradesh cross-voted.

READ | Cross-Voting In Himachal, Tight Race In UP In Rajya Sabha Polls

Unsurprisingly, the 16 votes went to Bharatiya Janata Party candidates, with the party now having claimed one extra seat in each state and receiving a prestige boost ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

There was some encouragement from Karnataka, where the Congress held on to three seats - thanks to the support of two independent MLAs, two from local parties, and one BJP cross-voting lawmaker.

The defeats - discounting the fact it strengthens the BJP's hand - underlines the extent of the challenge facing INDIA in the general election, in which the BJP plans to win 370 seats on its own.

They will also make the Congress' task of negotiating seat-share deals in other states even harder.

The party is already under pressure - the stand-off with Mamata Banerjee in Bengal is a good example - to scale down its demands with allies pointing to its recent dismal electoral track record.

A significant point in all of this is two of the three states in which the BJP forced an election - and has now won two additional Rajya Sabha seats - are ruled by eternal rivals, the Congress.

Himachal Pradesh Rajya Sabha Election

The Congress swept to power in the hill state just under two years ago; the party won 40 of 68 Assembly seats in a rare big (and solo) win for the party. The BJP won just 25 seats.

There was only one vacant seat, and the Congress nominated Abhishek Singhvi, expecting a comfortable win for the senior leader. Mr Singhvi needed only 35 votes to be confirmed.

The Congress should have closed this poll in double-quick time. However, after cross-voting by at least six Congress MLAs (and three independents) the BJP's Harsh Mahajan has instead won.

READ | BJP Claims Win In Himachal Pradesh Rajya Sabha Poll 

Sources told NDTV the cross-voting MLAs were Sudhir Sharma, Rajendra Rana, Ravi Thakur, Indradutt Lakhanpal, Chaitanya Sharma, and Devendra Bhutto.

Hours after polling closed, there was more drama; the six, and the three independents, were reportedly taken to Panchkula in BJP-ruled Haryana, according to Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu.

READ | 6 Himachal Congress MLAs Taken Away To BJP-ruled Haryana

A further fallout sees the BJP now claiming the Congress government is in the minority, and talk of a floor test less than halfway through a five-year term, is now being discussed.

Uttar Pradesh Rajya Sabha Election

There are 10 Rajya Sabha seats available in the state this year.

Of these, the BJP, with 252 MLAs on its books (plus 18 allied votes), has seven seats locked, while the SP, with 108 lawmakers and a handful from its allies, was looking at a three-seat return.

Now it appears the BJP will claim an eighth seat, thanks to seven cross-voting Samajwadi Party MLAs and support from Jayant Chaudhary's Rashtriya Lok Dal.

The RLD is an INDIA member for now, but is expected to switch to the BJP-led alliance shortly.

READ | In Rajya Sabha Poll, Akhilesh Yadav Says 3rd Seat Bid Was "Test"

Mr Yadav - who was dealt a shock early this morning (and a clear sign of what was to come) after his Chief Whip and three MLAs were spotted with the BJP - has now claimed the third seat was a "test".

Karnataka Rajya Sabha Election

The southern state - also Congress-ruled - had four seats falling vacant.

The ruling party was expected to claim the three it held without fuss, since it has 134 MLAs to the 85 between the BJP and its ally, the Janata Dal (Secular), and needed only one more to do just that.

As it transpired, the Congress polled 139 overall - including ST Somashekar, the BJP MLA who cross-voted - allowing Ajay Maken, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain, and GC Chandrashekhar victories.

The BJP had enough - 45 votes are needed - to retain its one seat, won by Narayana Bandage.

Rest Of India

Apart from these, 41 seats have been filled unopposed.

The list includes former Congress boss Sonia Gandhi, who leaves her seat in the party stronghold of Raebareli in UP - maybe to Priyanaka Gandhi Vadra - after holding it since she won it in 2004.

READ | Sonia Gandhi Shifts To Rajya Sabha. End Of Era, Big Change For Congress

BJP boss JP Nadda has been moved from Himachal Pradesh - after the party lost the state - to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw (Odisha) and L Murugan (Madhya Pradesh) were also elected without fuss, as was ex-Congressman Ashok Chavan.

Mr Chavan, with the Congress for decades, quit two weeks ago and joined the BJP hours later.

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