Elections for 19 Rajya Sabha seats spread across eight states have begun at 9 AM today. The contest is for four seats in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand, and one each from Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya. The results will be announced by the Election Commission by the end of Friday. Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls on Friday, hectic political activity continued as part of last-minute management from both sides -- the BJP and the Congress.
The closest battle is in Gujarat where the BJP in its last leg effort has managed to get the support of the NCP MLA to boost its chances of winning three seats in the state.
Sources in the BJP said the lone NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja has attended the BJP legislature party meet and the party's numbers have now gone up to 104 in the state. But the BJP is still short of one vote as it needs 105 votes to get all its three candidates elected.
Gujarat has 4 seats going to the polls and the Congress is on the backfoot after three of its MLAs resigned in June and five in March. The party is reduced to 65, short of 6 MLAs to win the second seat. The Congress claimed that it is short of just one vote for the second candidate to win. Congress in-charge Rajiv Satav said, "we are hopeful to win both the seats and have the required numbers."
In Rajasthan though, the Congress is comfortably placed but the BJP is trying hard to get the second seat as there are four candidates in the fray for the three Rajya Sabha seats in the state. Congress sources say that they will easily manage both the seats though the BSP has raised objection to its six MLAs who have merged with the party. Congress has lodged its MLAs in a resort. The BJP has fielded Onkar Singh Lakhawat as the fourth candidate.
In the high profile election in Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia is in the fray after whose revolt the Congress government fell, the second Congress candidate Phool Singh Baraiya will find it tough to get elected but the Congress is preparing to challenge it in court. Digvijaya Singh is slated to bag one Rajya Sabha seat.
The latest coup for Congress and some reprieve has come from Manipur in the North East where the party was able to reverse 'Operation Kamal'. A day ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, the party has turned the tables and it could be sweet revenge for Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The Congress has fielded T Mangi Babu and the BJP has fielded former King Leishemba Sanajaoba.
"The BJP is on the verge of losing the seat and the government in Manipur. The BJP was busy in poaching in big states and we have pulled the carpet from under their feet in Manipur. This is the 'beginning of the end' of the BJP in the northeast," said a Congress leader of Manipur.
In Jharkhand, the Congress was hoping that Chief Minister Soren will muster the numbers but it seems that Congress candidate Shahzada Anwar will not make it to the Upper House.
However, Congress in-charge of the state RPN. Singh said, "We are trying to impress the MLAs to vote for the Congress as BJP was short of two."
But sources say that AJSU will support the BJP, so now Shibu Soren of the JMM and Deepak Prakash of the BJP are comfortably placed to enter the Rajya Sabha from Jharkhand.
On Friday, 19 seats are going to the polls in 8 states.