NEW DELHI: Cross-voting and allegations of horse-trading dominated the elections held on Friday for 16 seats in four state assemblies – Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka and Rajasthan.
Counting of votes were delayed in Maharashtra and Haryana after the BJP and Independent candidates, backed by the party, complained of malpractice and demanded countermanding the polling.
Congress notched a major victory in Rajasthan where all three party candidates for Rajya Sabha seats romped home, rebuffing the hopes of BJP-backed Independent Subhash Chandra who was banking on cross-voting from Congress and Independents to score an upset.
The results in Karnataka were a leg-up for BJP which won three seats, bagging the third eyed by JD(S), because the Gowda outfit could not arrive at an understanding with Congress.
Rajasthan outcome a relief for Congress
For Congress, bogged down by repeated defeats and defections post-2019, the victory in Rajasthan was uplifting as it demonstrated better management against BJP. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot cornered the credit for the party’s success.
Congress candidates Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari got 43, 42 and 41 votes, respectively, while BJP’s Ghanshyam Tiwari obtained 43 votes. The BJP-supported Independent Subhash Chandra bagged only 30.
One vote of the Congress was rejected while BJP MLA Shobha Rani Kushwaha voted for Congress candidate Pramod Tiwari in a big surprise. She has been suspended from the party.
The CM described the success of party candidates as a “victory of unity of the Congress” in the state and expressed confidence that the party would retain power in the next assembly polls.
Ruling party bags win in Karnataka
In an emphatic endorsement for the BJP in the state, the ruling party bagged the win as it won all the three Rajya Sabha seats it contested out of the four that went to polls.
Two JDS leaders reportedly defied their party whip to vote for the Congress’s nominee. One of them said he “loved” the Congress.
The main opposition Congress managed to win only one of the two seats for which its nominees were in the fray, while the JD(S) drew a blank.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, actor-politician Jaggesh, and MLC Lehar Singh Siroya of the BJP, and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress were declared victorious. Sitharaman and Ramesh have been re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.
There was suspense over the outcome of the fight for the fourth seat, which witnessed a tight contest between all the three major political parties none of which had enough votes for an easy win.
Haryana: Maken failed to bag enough votes
In a jolt to the Congress, BJP’s Krishan Lal Panwar and the saffron party-backed Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma were declared elected for the two Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana, after a high drama over allegations of violations of polling rules that delayed the counting by more than seven hours.
The counting of votes began past midnight and the results were announced after 2am on Saturday.
According to Election Commission officials, Congress candidates Ajay Maken did not get enough votes. The party said one of its MLAs cross-voted while the vote of an MLA was declared invalid.
Major setback to ruling alliance in Maharashtra
In a major setback to Maharashtra’s ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, the BJP on Saturday won three of the six Rajya Sabha seats, while the ruling combine questioned the eight-hour delay in counting of votes.
The BJP winners include Union minister Piyush Goyal and former state minister Anil Bonde, and Dhananjay Mahadik. Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, NCP’s Praful Patel and Congress’ Imran Pratapgarhi also won the fiercely-fought elections.
Of the 284 valid votes, Goyal polled 48, Bonde 48, Mahadik 41.56, Raut 41, Pratapgarhi 44 and Patel 43. The high-stake battle for the sixth turned out to be a nail-biting affair with the Congress and BJP trading charges, even approaching the Election Commission.
The counting of votes started after an eight-hour delay amid complaints of cross voting and rules violation by the BJP and the ruling alliance.
Both BJP and the Shiv Sena approached the Election Commission, alleging cross voting and seeking disqualification of votes. The poll panel directed the Rajya Sabha election returning officer of Maharashtra to reject the vote cast by Shiv Sena legislator Suhas Kande, after which the counting of votes got underway after 1 am. The first result was out in two hours.
After the stunning setback, however, Congress leaders admitted shortcomings in coordination in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.

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