After being deferred in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, elections to 61 Rajya Sabha seats spread across 20 states finally concluded on Friday. Forty-two candidates, including prominent ones like former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, had already been elected unopposed, ahead of voting.
So on Friday, with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place to ensure social distancing, the Election Commission conducted elections to 19 seats from eight states, including Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.
Results for all seats were declared by the end of the day. In Andhra Pradesh, all four seats went to the ruling YSRCP. Reliance Industries senior group president Parimal Nathwani was among those elected to the Upper House of Parliament. The lone Telugu Desam Party candidate, Varla Ramiah, was defeated in the contest.
In Madhya Pradesh, after a close contest, former Congress MP and a recent entrant into the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jyotiraditya Scindia, made his entry into the Rajya Sabha. Of the three seats that went to polls from the state, two went to the BJP and one to Congress. Four candidates, two from each party, had filed their nominations for the elections. Congress' Digvijaya Singh returned to the Upper House with 57 votes, while Scindia scored 56 votes and Sumer Singh Solanki of the BJP too got 55 votes. Two votes were declared invalid.
In Rajasthan, it was the Congress that had the upper hand. Of the three seats up for grabs, two went to the ruling Congress and one to the BJP. Among the winners was Congress general secretary KC Venugopal, who received 64 votes while his party colleague Neeraj Dangi got 59 votes. BJP's Rajendra Gehlot was at the third spot. Both parties that had pitched two candidates each for the contest, had lodged their legislators in different hotels ahead of polling, amid accusations of poaching. Congress' Randeep Surjewala called the results "Win for democracy, failure of conspiracy."
Of the two seats that went to polls in Jharkhand, three-time former chief minister of the state, Shibu Soren from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won one. Speaking to India Today TV, his son, the current chief minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren accused the BJP of indulging in horse-trading to tilt the game in its favor. The BJP's Deepak Prakash won the second seat from the state.
In Manipur, the state which has witnessed hectic developments recently after nine legislators withdrew support to the N Biren Singh-led BJP government pushing it into a minority, the BJP still sprung a surprise and won the lone seat from the state. Earlier in the day, in a surprise move, the Speaker of the assembly had allowed three Congress legislators to cast their vote, despite them being barred from entering the assembly by the Manipur High Court. They'd recently defected to the BJP. Speaking later on the win, BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said, "BJP has won the lone RS seat in Manipur with 28 votes to Congress' 24 votes. It should now put all speculation about the Manipur government's stability and future to rest. Congratulations to the Manipur CM and his colleagues for this convincing victory."
In Meghalaya, Dr. WR Kharlukhi from the ruling National People's Party won the lone seat, defeating Congress' Kennedy Khyriem. Kharlukhi got 39 votes while Khyriem got 19 votes after one vote was declared invalid.
In Mizoram, The ruling Mizo National Front's K Vanlalvena was declared the winner in the Rajya Sabha elections with 27 votes after he defeated his rivals from the Zoram People's Movement (seven votes) and Congress (five votes)
And in a nail-biting finish, it was past 10 pm in the night when the results for the 4 seats from Gujarat were declared. BJP secured three seats while Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil won one seat. From the BJP, it was Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara, and Narhari Amin who scooped victories for themselves. Congress' Bharatsinh Solanki lost the elections. The closely-fought contest went down to the wire, as anticipated after the Congress sought to invalidate votes cast by two BJP MLAs on varied grounds. The demand was rejected by the Election Commission of India, after which counting of votes took place.