As the date nears for elections to 57 Rajya Sabha seats on June 10, lobbying by ticket aspirants has intensified across political parties with those set to retire also pushing for another term.
While 11 seats are falling vacant in Uttar Pradesh, six members each are retiring from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, five from Bihar and four each from Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
Three members each from Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, two each from Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Punjab Jharkhand and Haryana, and one from Uttarakhand are also retiring.
The BJP, which has already crossed the 100-mark in the Upper House, is planning for a big push on seats that don’t have a clear majority, particular in UP that has the highest number of seats in the Rajya Sabha. Bihar is second on that list with Union minister and JD(U) leader RCP Singh uncertain about retaining his seat.
Speaking to News18.com, senior leaders of several parties said the election could be full of surprises, starting with candidate selection.
Of the 11 Rajya Sabha seats up for polls from Uttar Pradesh, five are members of the BJP, three are from the Samajwadi Party, two from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and one from the Congress. All 11 MPs are retiring in July.
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats, of which the BJP has MLAs on 273, which means it can easily secure seven of the 11 Rajya Sabha seats going to polls. Next would be the Samajwadi Party, which along with its allies, has 125 MLAs in the Assembly and can win three seats in the Upper House. The remaining one Rajya Sabha seat is likely to see a close fight.
The Jat Representation
The Samajwadi Party and ally Rashtriya Lok Dal have announced the latter’s leader Jayant Chaudhary as a joint Rajya Sabha candidate and the SP has also lent support to the candidature of Kapil Sibal who quit the Congress recently.
To counter the SP’s support to Jat leader Jayant Chaudhary, BJP sources said the saffron party could support the candidature of a Jat leader from western UP. “We were almost certain that Chaudhary will be fielded from SP quota,” said a senior leader.
There is also buzz of Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi being repeated as a BJP Rajya Sabha member, but this time from UP instead of Jharkhand.
BJP leaders also told News18.com that the party is likely to send a Brahmin face as well to the Upper House. “We strike a balance while deciding on such important matters. We do not appease any religious sect or cast. We believe in fair representation of all,” said a senior BJP leader, conceding that the fight for the eighth seats would be intense.
Another senior BJP leader said there is “strong buzz” of BJP’s IT wing head Amit Malviya being given Rajya Sabha membership.
The BJP’s UP unit has sent a list of candidates for consideration and the central leadership is deliberating on the same for the final list.
Rajya Sabha MPs retiring from UP seats are Syed Zafar Islam, Shiv Pratap Shukla, JP Nishad, Kapil Sibal, Rewati Raman Singh, Sanjay Seth, Satish Chand Mishra, Surendra Singh Nagar, Sukhram Singh, VP Nishad and Ashok Siddharth.
The Bihar Picture
Five Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar will see voting on June 10 with RJD’s Misa Bharti, BJP leaders Satish Chand Dubey and Gopal Narayan Singh, and JD(U)’s Ram Chandra Prasad retiring in July. The fifth vacant seat is the one held previously by Sharad Yadav who was ousted from the Rajya Sabha in December 2017 after the JD(U) sought his disqualification for attending an opposition rally.
The RJD has already announced Lalu Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti and Dr Faiyaz Ahmad Bisfi as its candidates. Of the five seats up for grabs, the BJP and RJD can win two each, while the JD(U) can field its candidate on the remaining one.
Speculation on BJP’s candidates is yet to begin but the jostling for tickets has begun in ally JD(U) with outgoing Rajya Sabha member and Union minister RCP Singh meeting Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar on Thursday. The candidate selection will be watched keenly as the BJP’s state unit is not said to be on the same page as the ruling JD(U).