Mumbai: Senior journalist and Mumbai Press Club President Kumar Ketkar and political leader Narayan Rane, who jumped from Congress to BJP recently, have been elected to Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra. The candidates for all six seats from the state were elected unopposed today. Three of the seats went to the BJP, and one each to ally Shiv Sena and the opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Sources said former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who recently handed over the baton to her son Rahul Gandhi, had decided on Kumar Ketkar's candidature, even though he is not a party member.
Of the six Rajya Sabha seats, the Congress and the NCP had two each, Shiv Sena and the BJP had one each. Now, the BJP gets three seats while the others get one each.
There was a last-minute hiccup as the BJP fielded Vijaya Rahatkar -- the chairperson of the state women's commission - as a fourth candidate, forcing an election in one of the seats. But Ms Rahatkar withdrew her candidature today, ensuring unopposed election of the rest.
The BJP is set to increase the tally of its Rajya Sabha numbers from Maharashtra and in the state Legislative Council owing to its improved performance in the 2014 state assembly elections, where it emerged as the single largest party, but fell short of majority on its own.
The candidates elected to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra this time are BJP's Narayan Rane, Prakash Javadekar and Kerala leader V Muralidharan. Anil Desai of Shiv Sena, NCP's Vandana Chavan and Congress's Kumar Ketkar also went through to the upper house.
In Gujarat, four candidates have been elected unopposed to the state's four Rajya Sabha seats. Two have been elected from the BJP and two have been elected from the Congress. Two Independents, who were also in the fray withdrew their candidature, so there was no contest.