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Rajya Sabha: How BJP Pundits Got Math Right to Register Wins Across States

The BJP won three seats each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, and one seat each in Haryana and Rajasthan.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Rajya Sabha: How BJP Pundits Got Math Right to Register Wins Across States
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The results for the elections to 16 Rajya Sabha seats in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Haryana have been declared. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allies (National Democratic Alliance) have won nine seats (-2), the Congress and allies (United Progressive Alliance) have won seven seats (+2).

The BJP won three seats each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, and one seat each in Haryana and Rajasthan. One of the two media barons whom the party was backing as Independent candidates in Haryana won, while the other in Rajasthan lost out to wily Jadugar Ashok Gehlot.

The party’s efforts to win an extra seat each in the four states have fructified, with the exception of Rajasthan.

Of the 41 unopposed MPs elected earlier, 17 (-1) were from the NDA, 10 (-1) from the UPA, and 14 (+2) from regional parties.

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What Went Right and Wrong for the BJP in Rajasthan & Maharashtra

In Rajasthan, the party announced Ghanshyam Tiwari as its candidate. He is known to share a bad rapport with ex-Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje – the two being old time rivals. This impacted the coordination for polling.

Though Tiwari won easily, Raje seemed to be rather unenthusiastic to get the numbers to help Subhash Chandra (Independent) sail through.

Why would the former CM work when the party didn’t give a ticket to any person from her camp?

The BJP was harping on the fact that there was dissent in the Congress camp as it had given ticket to outsiders – Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik, Pramod Tiwari – leading to cross-voting for its Independent (backed) candidate.

However, the media baron the BJP backed (Chandra) is an outsider too, even though he claimed otherwise. Chandra is currently an MP from Haryana, with his term expiring on 11 August. This didn’t obviously cut ice with the MLAs.

He couldn’t muster support and was depending on the BJP for jugaad of shortfall.

The jod-tod, Chandra claiming he has secured support of four Congress MLAs, exhorting Sachin Pilot to rebel, the entire optics of all this ended on a wrong note for the BJP.

In Maharashtra, the party didn’t have the numbers to force a contest for the sixth seat. While the BJP has 106 MLAs, the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance has 153 – both being short of 20 and 15 votes to get their candidates elected.

The BJP took a chance to exploit the contradictions among the alliance partners Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Congress.

Being in power, the MVA enjoyed the support of another 16 MLAs belonging to smaller parties and Independents, and was thus expected to bridge the gap.

The BJP knew that two MLAs of the MVA who are currently in jail could be denied right to vote, while one Shiv Sena MLA had died recently. This meant that the elections could go to second round (with polling for second preference votes).

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It chose a strong candidate in Dhananjay Mahadik, who is an ex-Shiv Sena and NCP MP, and had joined the party just before the 2019 state elections.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar was comparatively a lightweight – the district president of Kolhapur.

The BJP also managed to secure a higher number of smaller parties and independent votes compared to the MVA – 17 versus 11.

BJP-Backed Media Baron Wins Haryana Seat

In Haryana, the contest was tight from the beginning as the Congress just had the exact number of MLAs – 31 – to win the seat.

The BJP backed Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma, another media baron, propped up by its ally the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).

The Congress had the numbers to get its candidate elected. Here again, the BJP forced a contest to exploit dissidence in the opposition camp as Ajay Maken, the Congress candidate, was an outsider.

The Congress party was also facing trouble as three of its MLAs had not turned up at the resort in Raipur where they were all huddled up. The BJP exploited factionalism in the party to the hilt.

Maken in the end received 28 first preference votes while Sharma got 29. The vote of one Congress MLA got cancelled while two seemed to have cross-voted.

Contrary to Rajasthan, here the candidate the BJP was backing, Kartikeya Sharma, the son of late Congress leader Venod Sharma, was a local. In the end, it was a repeat of 2016 when Subhash Chandra (independent candidate backed by the BJP) won as 14 Congress votes were declared invalid.

What the Party Got Right in Karnataka

Karnataka is the only state where putting up a third candidate made clear sense from the outset.

No party had the clear numbers to win the fourth seat as the deal between the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress failed. Elections moved to the second round of counting and the BJP had the maximum second-preference votes. The party exploited the factionalism within the JD(S).

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The third candidate of BJP, Lehar Singh Siroya is a Yediyurappa confidante, so unlike Rajasthan, you had a strong mentor backing him and going all out to ensure he wins this prestige battle.

To sum it up, the BJP’s high-pitch battle, its right math, a strong desire to win each and every election, and the right selection of candidates helped it contain losses in this round of the Rajya Sabha polls.

(The author is an independent political commentator and can be reached at @politicalbaaba. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from voices and opinion

Topics:  Congress   Haryana   Maharashtra 

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Published: 
Edited By :Saundarya Talwar
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