Elections for 19 Rajya Sabha seats spread across eight states will be held on Friday with the contest in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan promising to be a close affair between the BJP and the Congress.
Voting for 18 seats were deferred due to the coronavirus pandemic. Later the Election Commission announced polls for fours seats in Karnataka and one seat each in Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
Of the 19 seats where polling will be held, four each are from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand, and one each from Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
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.
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.
The counting of votes for all the 19 seats will be held on the evening of June 19 itself, the Election Commission said.
Legislators vote to elect candidates for the Upper House of Parliament.
The Election Commission (EC) has made elaborate arrangements for the voting keeping in mind the coronavirus pandemic. Every voter (MLA) will be screened for body temperature and will have use mask and adhere to social distancing norms. Legislators having a fever or showing other symptoms will be kept in a separate waiting room.
With many MLAs switching sides, the past few months have seen parties indulging in ‘resort politics’ to keep their flock together. Several MLAs have been lodged in resorts to stop them from “poaching” by rival factions.
In Gujarat, the contest is likely to go down to the wire as both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress do not have absolute numbers in the assembly to get all their candidates win on their own.
The BJP has fielded three candidates — Abhay Bharadwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin — for the four seats, while the Congress, which has seen desertions in its legislative ranks, has given tickets to two nominees Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.