Voting for 25 Rajya Sabha seats in six states of the country began sharp at 9 am on Friday. There are a total of 31 contenders for the seats in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
Of the 58 seats from 16 states which will fall vacant in April this year, 33 candidates have already been elected unopposed in 10 states.
Biennial elections are being held in the assemblies of the six states because there is one additional contender for the seats in every state.
All eyes will be on the outcome in Uttar Pradesh where there are 11 contenders for 10 Rajya Sabha seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded 9 candidates while Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have fielded one each.
It is estimated that eight of BJP’s candidates will sail through. The contest will be down to BSP candidate Bhim Rao Ambedkar and BJP candidate Anil Agarwal. SP has enough numbers in the assembly to vote its candidate Jaya Bachchan to RS. BSP, which is short of 18 first preference votes, is relying on SP’s surplus votes for its candidate.
SP has reportedly agreed to support BSP’s candidate in a display of a new alliance with which they intend to take on the BJP in 2019.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress has fielded four candidates for the five RS seats. Abhishek Manu Singhvi is the candidate for the Congress while Left Front has nominated Rabin Deb.
In Karnataka, the ruling Congress has nominated three candidates while the BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) have nominated one each. The state has four Rajya Sabha seats.
The battle in Telangana is between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the Congress for three seats. While TRS has named three candidates, the Congress has named one.
TRS chief and Telanagana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has already announced his intention of forming a non-BJP, non-Congress grand alliance to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a couple of days ago as a first step towards the realisation of such an alliance.
Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which have 2 and 1 seat, respectively, will see a contest between the BJP and the Congress.
Voting will end at 4 pm today. Counting of the votes will commence at 5 pm and the results are expected to be announced by evening.