Congress Bereft Of Rajya Sabha Route
The crushing defeat of the Congress in the recently concluded Vidhan Sabha elections will have multiple effects. The party will not be able to send any member to the Rajya Sabha for the next five years in the biennial elections. The term period of the Rajya Sabha member is six years and after every two years one-third of the10 members from Rajasthan get retired. The term of three present members—Gyan Prakash Pilania and Om Mathur (both BJP) and Prabha Thakur—will expire in April next year. Prabha Thakur, who is a former Lok Sabha member from Ajmer, is in the second consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha. Pilania is also in the second term in the Upper House.
The BJP, which won 163 seats, would be able to elect all itsthree members in the next year’s March election, whereas the Congress with just 21members will not be able to send a single candidate to the Rajya Sabha because of its poor strength of 21, which is its all-time low in a House of 200. As elections for three seats are to be held in March next year, the minimum vote required for a single seat is 67 votes (66.66), but the Congress is placed poorly with just 21 votes.
Each elector has only one vote irrespective of the number of seats to be filled up. However, the single vote is transferable from one candidate to another. This is the reason the candidates’ names on the ballot paper bear No. 1, 2, 3, and so on. The elector marks his preferences for the candidates in the order of these numbers. The figure 1 will represent first preference; the figure 2 will represent the second preference and so on. But as the Congress does not have the basic numbers, the BJP candidates would win all the seats. In that case, the March elections for the Upper House for the three seats are likely to be unopposed.
There is very strong speculation that the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley may contest the Lok Sabha election from Jaipur. It’s learnt that Diya Kumari, the princess of Jaipur, who won the Vidhan Sabha election from Sawaimadhopur, is very keen to contest the Lok Sabha election from Jaipur, but she was told by the Chief Minister that Jaitley would be fielded from Jaipur. Jaitley’s term ends in March this year as he was elected from Gujarat. Now Jaitley is keen to contest Lok Sabha elections, however he has not been able to find a safe seat for himself in Delhi. The Punjab BJP is ready to field him from Amritsar or from Chandigarh. The Punjab BJP has decided not to nominate cricketer-turned-TV personality Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar, as he has been neglecting the constituency. BJP sources said there is also a possibility of Jaitley being put as a candidate from Rajasthan for Rajya Sabha.
In March, when the biennial election for the Rajya Sabha takes place, it would also decide the future of the senior party leader Jaswant Singh. The former Union minister is currently a member of the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling and he was backed by the Gorkha Mukti Morcha in 2009 because Jaswant Singh supported its demand for a separate statehood for Gorkhaland. Jaswant Singh, after a lull, was seen active in Darjeeling and has again raised the demand for statehood to Gorkhaland. However, the party sources in Jaipur said that Jaswant is unlikely to contest from Darjeeling again and he would return to his native state and would be asked to contest either from Jodhpur or from Barmer.
The picture would be clear in March when the Rajya Sabha election takes place. If the party is keen to send Jaswant Singh in Rajya Sabha, where he would be the party leader and also the Leader of Opposition, then Jaitley would be contesting the Lok Sabha election from Jaipur or Amritsar or Chandigarh. If Jaswant Singh is fielded for Rajya Sabha, then his son Manvendra Singh, who is party’s MLA now, would be asked to contest the Barmer or Jodhpur seat. Manvendra has been MP from Barmer once, but lost the last election in 2009 by a very large margin to Harish Choudhry of Congress.
It is learnt that Union minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch, who is the sister of the former ruler of Jodhpur Gaj Singh and who won the Jodhpur seat, will not contest from Jodhpur and would return to Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, from where she had been a member of Lok Sabha earlier. In that case, former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot would contest the Lok Sabha seat. But if Chandresh Kumari stays in fray, neither Jaswant Singh nor Manvendra Singh would contest against her because they are closely related.
There is also speculation that LK Advani may contest from Ajmer as the constituency has a very large presence of the migrant Sindhis. Advani is not keen to contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat again and with the present political scenario because of the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party, he is finding Delhi not a safe bet. Advani after migrating from Karachi in 1947 worked in Jaipur and Alwar as an RSS Pracharak. Ajmer could be very safe for him as the party did very well in the recent Vidhan Sabha elections. The sitting MP Sachin Pilot has smelled the rat and is keen to contest from Bhilwara as the former Union minister and AICC general secretary CP Joshi has made up his mind not to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
There are 25 seats in Rajasthan and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has launched “Mission 25”. It is likely that six to eight BJP MLAs would be asked to contest the Lok Sabha polls as the party exhausted all its candidates in the Vidhan Sabha elections and most of them emerged winners.
By PB Chandra from Jaipur