Bhopal: The Congress and the BJP are all set for elections to three Rajya Sabha seats to be held in Madhya Pradesh on Friday.
Originally scheduled for March 26 but deferred because of the coronavirus outbreak, elections to a total of 18 seats from seven states will be the first since the lockdown was enforced nearly three months ago. Other states that will vote on the day are Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat (four seats each), Rajasthan (three), Jharkhand (two) and Mizoram and Meghalaya (one each)
The ruling BJP has summoned its legislators to Bhopal; state in-charge Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Baijayant Panda and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar have already arrived in the city.
Across the aisle Congress in-charge Mukul Wasink met with party MLAs today.
“The way you remained united is praiseworthy. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP murdered democracy after toppling an elected government by luring MLAs. You have discarded it by showing your dedication towards the party,” Mr Wasnik said.
Madhya Pradesh was the setting for controversy in March after Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Congress veteran of nearly two decades, crossed to the BJP, taking 22 MLAs with him and forcing Kamal Nath to resign as Chief Minister.
In his resignation speech Kamal Nath lashed out at a “power-hungry, ambitious “Maharaj” (as Mr Scindia is known to his supporters)” and “22 greedy MLAs”. “Everyone saw how crores of rupees were spent. How a democratically-elected government was brought down by the BJP,” Kamal Nath raged.
Mr Scindia is one of the candidates to be fielded by the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.
The other candidate is Sumer Singh Solanki, who belongs to a tribal community and is also linked to the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor).
The Congress has named Digvijaya Singh, a veteran leader and former Chief Minister, as one of its candidates. Mr Singh, who was beaten to the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat by the BJP’s Pragya Thakur in general elections in April last year, is seeking re-election to the Upper House.
The second Congress candidate is Phool Singh Baraiya.
Given the current composition of the Assembly, the BJP will get two seats and the Congress one; the BJP has 107 members to the Congress’ 92, with 52 votes required to win one Rajya Sabha seat.
In a related development, BSP MLAs Rambai and Sanjeev Singh Kushwaha, Samajwadi Party MLA Rajesh Shukla and two independents – Vikram Singh Rana and Surendra Singh Shera reached Madhya Pradesh BJP headquarters on Wednesday.
They were accompanied by state Home Minister Narrotam Mishra, who has been accused of being involved in the plot to unsettle the former Congress government.