Rajya Sabha Elections 2024: Cross-voting buzz dominates as BJP looks to extend its upper house tally

Rajya Sabha Elections 2024: Voting is currently underway for 15 seats across three states of the upper house of the Indian parliament Rajya Sabha.

A total of 41 leaders for 56 seats, including former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and BJP chief JP Nadda, were elected unopposed in recent days.

The polling is being held for the Rajya Sabha seats from Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka states, as well as the country’s most politically influential Uttar Pradesh state governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP holds 28 of the 56 seats and is expected to have at least 29 after the election. In Uttar Pradesh, the opposition’s Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (‘INDIA’) bloc is expected to gain one more seat as the Samajwadi Party is expected to improve its tally from one to two seats.

For the northern Uttar Pradesh state, the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded eight candidates and the Opposition Samajwadi Party three for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats that are going to polls. There are eleven candidates for 10 seats, meaning that one of the candidates will not enter parliament’s upper house from a current lot of candidates going to polls.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is reportedly banking on members of the legislative assembly from the Rashtriya Lok Dal, a party with a substantial vote share in the western part of Uttar Pradesh state, whose patriarch Charan Singh was recently conferred with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.

The BJP leaders claim to have 10 MLAs from Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, eight of whom did not attend the pre-poll dinner hosted by Yadav a day earlier. The SP has denied these claims.

This is because the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Sanjay Seth, a former member of the Samajwadi Party and an industrialist, as one of its eight candidates – with Seth reportedly known to have gained the confidence of some unnamed Samajwadi Party MLAs.

As the polling began, the Samajwadi Party chief whip in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, Manoj Kumar Pandey stepped down, in a symbolic blow to the party’s ambition of pushing for a better performance in Rajya Sabha elections months before the General Elections.

In the southern state of Karnataka, the ruling Congress party shifted its MLAs to a private hotel on Monday (Feb 26) in a bid to prevent undue influence

State party chief and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar has denied any possibility of cross-voting by the party MLAs.

In the Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh, the BJP’s Harsh Mahajan is contesting against Congress party’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The election is being seen as a prestige battle for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Indian parliament consists of the Lok Sabha or house of the people, the Rajya Sabha or the house of the states, and the president.

All 543 members of Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people during General Elections held every five years. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party or alliance with over 272 seats in Lok Sabha.

The members of the Rajya Sabha – a total of 238 of 250 strength – are elected by the elected members of the state legislative assemblies. The rest of the 12 members, usually the eminent members of society, are nominated by the president.

For the making of a law, a proposed bill must be passed by the majority of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha followed by assent from the president.

Currently, the Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245. The term for Upper House members is six years, and elections are held every two years for 33 per cent of the seats.

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