By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 19, 2020 9:35:34 am
Among the states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are all set to see a close fight between the BJP and the Congress. (File photo)
Elections for 19 Rajya Sabha seats, spread across eight states began today and counting of votes will commence from 5 pm. Among the states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are all set to see a close fight between the BJP and the Congress.
Voting is underway in four seats each in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two in Jharkhand, and one each in Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya. Voting for 18 seats was deferred due to the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 12,237 lives in India. The polls were originally scheduled to be held on March 26.
Keeping in mind the coronavirus pandemic, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made separate Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), including separate routes and waiting areas, for MLAs suspected to have Covid-19 arriving in the state for polling. The ECI has stationed paramedical teams at the polling centre. Masks, gloves and sanitisers will be made available at four-five places within the premises, including toilets, to be used by candidates, MLAs, polling staff and others present. The entire polling centre will also be sanitised before the process begins.
In the past few months, several MLAs have switched sides, giving an interesting turn to the election.
In Gujarat, As per the current strength, both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress do not have absolute numbers in the assembly to secure victory for all its candidates. The BJP has fielded three candidates — Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramilaben Bara and Narhari Amin, while the Congress has nominated two — Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.
The elections were necessitated after the term of four MPs ended in April this year; three of them were from BJP — Chunibhai Gohel, Shambhuprasad Tundiya, and Lalsinh Vadodia — and one was veteran Congress leader, Madhusudan Mistry.
The election in Manipur is also likely to be interesting following the resignation of nine members of the ruling coalition and the opposition Congress pressing for a no-confidence motion against the N Biren Singh government. The BJP has fielded Leisemba Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur, while the Congress nominee is T Mangi Babu. On Wednesday, three MLAs of the BJP resigned and joined the Congress, and four MLAs of the National People’s Party (NPP), an AITC MLA and an independent MLA withdrew support to the BJP-led coalition government.
In Karnataka, where elections were to be held for four seats, all the candidates — former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, BJP candidates Iranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti — have been declared elected unopposed. BJP nominee Nabam Rebia was also elected unopposed to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Arunachal Pradesh.
In Madhya Pradesh, both the BJP and the Congress have fielded two candidates each for the three seats. While the BJP’s candidates are former Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sumer Singh Solanki, the Congress has named Digvijaya Singh and Dalit leader Phool Singh Baraiya. In the 230-member assembly, the BJP currently has 107 MLAs and also enjoys the support of two legislators of the Bahujan Samaj Party, one of the Samajwadi Party and two Independents, while the opposition Congress has 92 MLAs. Currently, the effective strength of the House is 206, as 24 seats are lying vacant. While the BJP is expected to win two seats and the Congress one seat, the fight will be for the fourth slot.
In Rajasthan, both the ruling Congress and opposition BJP have lodged their legislators in different hotels after accusing each other of poaching MLAs. For the three seats up for grabs, four candidates (two from Congress and as many from BJP) have filed nomination papers. The Congress has nominated K C Venugopal and Neeraj Dangi, while the BJP has fielded Rajendra Gehlot and Onkar Singh Lakhawat.
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