Rajya Sabha election results: Legislators from four states queued up to vote in 16 seats to the Rajya Sabha on Friday in four states - Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala and senior leader Jairam Ramesh were among the eight candidates that were elected to the from Karnataka and Rajasthan.
Representations made by the BJP and the Congress and its allies, accusing each other of flouting the open balloting rules and seeking invalidation of the votes of some MLAs, are being examined by the Election Commission. The counting will be taken up only after the poll panel gives the go ahead.
Karnataka - BJP's majority
In an emphatic endorsement for the BJP in Karnataka, the ruling party had the last laugh as it won all the three Rajya Sabha seats it contested out of the four that went to polls.
The main opposition Congress managed to win only one of the two seats for which its nominees were in the fray, while the JD(S) drew a blank.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, actor-politician Jaggesh, and MLC Lehar Singh Siroya of the BJP, and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress were declared victorious. Sitharaman and Ramesh have been re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.
There was suspense over the outcome of the fight for the fourth seat, which witnessed a tight contest between all the three major political parties none of which had enough votes for an easy win.
However, BJP's Siroya triumphed over Mansoor Ali Khan of the Congress and D Kupendra Reddy (JDS), apparently aided by cross-voting from rival parties and the help of Independents.
Rajasthan - A win for Congress
In Rajasthan, the ruling Congress won three of the four seats and the BJP one.
BJP-backed Independent nominee and media baron Subhash Chandra, whose entry into the fray had added spice to the electoral tussle, fell by the wayside. Chandra, who had won the last RS election as an Independent from Haryana, tried his luck from Rajasthan.
In an interesting development, BJP MLA Shobharani Kushwah cross-voted in favour of Congress candidate Pramod Tiwari. The BJP promptly suspended her from the party's primary membership.
"When everybody knows that 126 MLAs are with us, why did they (BJP) field an independent candidate? They wanted to attempt horse-trading but that did not happen," a jubilant Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told reporters at the Assembly complex in Jaipur.
The victory of the Congress candidates has sent out a strong message in the country, he said, asserting the party will retain power in the Assembly elections next year.
The Congress, with 108 MLAs in the 200-member Assembly, needed 123 votes to win the three seats. The Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) with two MLAs had extended support to it. The ruling party also had the claimed support of 13 Independents and one Rashtriya Lok Dal MLA, who is a state minister.
On the other hand, the BJP had 71 MLAs. After the victory of its party candidate, who secured 43 votes, the BJP had 28 surplus votes to help Chandra's bid. Three MLAs of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) too had extended support to Chandra, but he still couldn't manage the additional votes required for a victory.
Row over rules in Maharashtra, Haryana
However, the counting was held up in Maharashtra after opposition BJP alleged three MLAs of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)--Cabinet ministers Jitendra Awhad (NCP) and Yashomati Thakur (Congress), besides Shiv Sena legislator Suhas Kande violated the model code for voting.
The Congress retaliated, demanding that the Election Commission invalidate the votes of BJP MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar and Independent MLA Ravi Rana.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole, in a letter to the CEC claimed Mungantiwar "vitiated the voting procedure" by showing his ballot paper to people other than his own party's election agents. Rana openly displayed the Hanuman Chalisa, a religious book, and sought to influence other voters, he alleged.
The counting was also put on hold in Haryana for identical reasons after BJP nominee Krishan Lal Panwar and Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma shot off a missive to the EC, alleging Congress MLAs Kiran Choudhary and B B Batra showed their ballot papers to unauthorised persons after marking them and that the episodes were "duly captured" on cameras.
Prominent among the candidates who are expected to score a facile victory in Maharashtra include Union minister Piyush Goyal and Shiv Sena's ubiquitous face and spokesperson Sanjay Raut. Both are sitting Rajya Sabha members from the state.