Rajya Sabha election updates: Counting of votes has begun in Jharkhand after the Election Commission gave clearance. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi emerged victorious from West Bengal, while TMC bagged four seats from state. BJP's Saroj Pandey has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Chhattisgarh.
With two jailed MLAs being barred from casting their votes in Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha elections on Friday, the battle for 10 Uttar Pradesh seats is set to come down to the wire as BJP and BSP will have to rely on cross-voting.
SP has said that BJP MLAs will cross-vote in their favour because a lot of leaders of the saffron party are annoyed with the party. The voting for the remaining 25 seats in 6 states has begun.
The stage is set for Rajya Sabha polls on Friday for the remaining 25 seats in six states including Uttar Pradesh where BJP is virtually assured of 8 of the 10 seats amid suspense whether it can snatch an extra seat in the light of the newfound bonhomie between former arch rivals Samajwadi Party and BSP.
For the 58 Rajya Sabha seats to be filled, 33 candidates from 10 states were declared elected unopposed on 15 March. Seven Union ministers, including Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar, were among them.
Representational image. PTI
Besides Uttar Pradesh, where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is in the fray and who is certain to win, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana will also feature in the polls. Counting of ballots will be taken up at 5 pm, an hour after the end of voting.
A bypoll will also be held for one seat in Kerala where MP Veerendra Kumar, the Left-backed candidate of Sharad Yadav faction of the JD(U), is pitted against Babu Prasad of the Congress.
The four-MLA strong Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), after being placated by BJP chief Amit Shah, and the Apna Dal (Sonelal) with nine MLAs have decided to vote for BJP nominees.
"We are standing with the BJP. We had held a meeting of our MLAs and it was decided that we will strongly support the BJP," national president of Apna Dal(S) Ashish Patel said in Lucknow.
In all there are 11 candidates in the fray for the 10 seats.
The BJP and its allies have 324 MLAs in the 403-member Assembly after the death of its Noorpur MLA in a road accident recently.
To secure a win, a candidate needs 37 first preference votes. Arithmetically, the BJP can easily win eight of the 10 seats and will be left with 28 surplus votes.
"There will be contest on the ninth seat," a senior Uttar Pradesh BJP leader said, exuding confidence that the saffron party would bag nine seats.
The Samajwadi Partyand the BSP also appeared sure of win one seat each.
The Samajwadi Party has fielded Jaya Bachchan and the BSP Bhimrao Ambedkar. With 19 MLAs, the BSP is short of 18 first preference votes and with Naresh Agarwal's son Nitin, who is still an Samajwadi Party MLA, likely to cross-vote for the BJP, the task will become difficult for the candidate of the Mayawati-led party.
BSP insiders said to be doubly sure of victory, Mayawati has sought a list of Samajwadi Party's loyal MLAs who will vote for her party candidate. She is also banking on some independent MLAs, who, though, are yet to reveal their cards, they said.
Riding on the new bonhomie with the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati is banking on the 10 surplus votes of Akhilesh Yadav's party, besides seven votes of the Congress and one of RLD to reach the magic figure of 37 votes.
However, Nitin Agarwal can queer the BSPs pitch if he votes for the BJP. Naresh Agarwal, who recently quit the Samajwadi Party and joined the BJP, has said his son would vote for the saffron party in the Rajya Sabha polls.
The country's most populous state sends 31 MPs to the 245-member Rajya Sabha, and the BJP, which won a massive victory in the 2017 Assembly elections, is yet to get a lion's share of these. Presently, the BJP has 58 Rajya Sabha MPs.
Besides Jaitley, the others in the fray are Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav, GVL Narasimha Rao and Anil Kumar Agarwal.
Altogether, six candidates, including Congress nominee Abhisek Manu Singhvi, are in the fray for the five Rajya Sabha seats from West Bengal. The state's ruling TMC has decided to back the eminent lawyer.
Five candidates are in the electoral arena in Karnataka for four seats. The state's ruling Congress has fielded three nominees, while there are one each of the BJP and JD(S).
Elections will also be held for two seats in Jharkhand where three candidates are in the fray, including two of the state's ruling BJP and one of the Congress.
One candidate each of the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress will cross swords for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Chhattisgarh.
Four candidates will try their luck from Telangana where polling will be held for three seats.
With inputs from agencies