NEW DELHI: Days after the sobering setbacks in two Lok Sabha bypolls, BJP secured a consolation trophy for itself on Friday by defeating the SP-BSP combine + in a highvalue thriller for the 10th Rajya Sabha seat from UP. With Friday’s results, BJP boosted its Rajya Sabha tally from 58 to 69 (winning 28 of the 59 seats for which results were declared). Congress won 10 seats, a loss of four seats from its current tally of 54.
BJP’s biggest gain was in UP, where it won nine of the 10 seats. It also improved its tally in Maharashtra, winning three of the six seats (a gain of two seats) and Rajasthan, where it won all the three seats (a gain of two). It also wrested from Congress a seat each in Uttarakhand and Haryana.
However, BJP lost two seats to Congress in Gujarat, where it could win only two of the four seats due to the Congress’s impressive performance in the last assembly elections. It also lost a seat to Congress in Karnataka. Similarly, in Bihar too, it lost a seat to the opposition. In UP, while BJP’s eight candidates, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, sailed through as did SP’s Jaya Bachchan, the contest for the 10th seat went right down to the wire before BJP’s Anil Agarwal prevailed over the joint candidate of BSP, SP and Congress in a contest marked by cross-voting.
RS elections in Karnataka were highlighted by a high voltage drama with the JD(S) contingent resorting to a sitin to protest against alleged nexus between the ruling Congress and secretary of the Assembly, the Returning Officer, who had to be eventually substituted. The outcome, however, did not throw up any surprises, with Congress winning 3 seats and the remaining one going to BJP’s Rajeev Chandrashekhar.
In Jharkhand, BJP and Congress both managed to win one seat each. While BJP’s Samir Oraon scored an easy win, the battle for the second seat witnessed a tough contest before Congress’s Dhiraj Sahu outmuscled BJP’s second candidate in what was billed to be the battle of resourceful rivals.
In Lucknow, BJP candidate Anil Agarwal’s victory for the 10th seat was facilitated by cross -voting by BSP’s Anil Singh and SP rebel Nitin Agarwal, as well as support from Vijay Mishra of Nishad Party and controversial Independent Amanmani Tripathi. The gains helped the party make up for the loss of the vote of the BJP MLA who could not vote the right way, as well as the suspected switching over of support of two supporters of party’s inconsistent ally Om Prakash Rajbhar.
Though Agarwal received only 16 first preference votes against 33 notched by BSP’s Ambedkar, the saffron candidate went through because of the huge number of second preference votes: a factor which acquires critical importance in such fluid situations. The disqualification of the vote of a BSP MLA also helped. Thanks to its landslide win in last year’s assembly polls, BJP had enough votes to secure 8 of the 10 seats which were up for grabs in UP. SP had sufficient numbers to ensure the victory of Jaya Bachchan.
The 10th seat became the bone of a highstake contention after a surprise pact between SP and BSP where the latter agreed to back Akhilesh Yadav’s candidates in Gorakhpur and Phulpur LS by-polls in exchange for the transfer of surplus Samajwadi votes for Mayawati’s RS candidate. Coming in the aftermath of the twin defeats in LS bypolls, the decision to make a run for the 10th seat represented a huge risk for BJP chief Amit Shah; also because a similarly audacious gambit to snatch the RS seat of Ahmed Patel had not worked last last year in Gujarat.
A second reverse would have not only raised questions about his high-risk “go-for-jugular” style but, more importantly, would have helped SP-BSP amplify the perception of recovery in the wake of by poll successes. Akhilesh did succeed in delivering all the ‘surplus’ SP votes, including that of his estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav, to BSP. Mayawati also ensured that there were, except for the case of Anil Singh, no desertions from the flock, which had in the past often proved to be vulnerable in similar circumstance, no desertions.
In the event, however, they were outmuscled by BJP because of the party’s massive advantage in “second preference” votes and because Amit Shah outmanoeuvred them to net the votes of two influential Brahmins from eastern UP — Vijay Mishra and Amanmani Tripathi. Meanwhile, among regional parties, SP was the biggest loser as it managed to win only one seat in UP.
SP had six of the 10 seats in UP. BSP was another loser when its candidate failed to win a single seat in UP. BSP held two of the 10 seats. TRS was the biggest winner among the regional parties, winning all the three seats from Telangana. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, YSR Congress won one of the three seats, a gain of one seat. BJD won all the three seats in Odisha, an improvement of one seat. Congress improved its tally from two to three in Karnataka, but it lost two seats each in Telangana and Rajasthan. The party also lost a seat in Maharashtra, where its ally NCP too lost a seat.