New Delhi, June 2: Assured of winning at least 17 seats in the upcoming biennial elections to 57 seats in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is seeking to win some bonus seats with extra votes it has in five of the 15 states going for polls on June 11.
The BJP's effort is not only to increase its own numerical strength in the Upper House where the government lacks majority but also to ensure that the Congress is not able to win any extra seat, political observers aver pointing out that several key legislations, including the GST Bill, are pending in the Rajya Sabha blocked by the Congress.
The BJP has announced names of 18 candidates from 14 states till date among which it is assured of winning 17 seats. Other than this, the ruling party at the Centre is eyeing one seat each from Jharkhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
In Jharkhand, where the BJP is assured of Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi being elected to the first seat, it has chosen its second nominee as Mahesh Poddar, an industrialist, who has far from the the required number of votes in his favour.
Two of the six Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand are getting vacant this time with BJP's M.J. Akbar and Congress's Dheeraj Sahu completing their respective terms.
Uttar Pradesh, where 12 candidates are in the fray for the vacant 11 seats, the BJP will win one seat easily. The party has named its state unit vice president Shiv Pratap Shukla as its nominee.
The BJP with 41 legislators will need 37 votes to get its Rajya Sabha nominee through. With four additional votes, the BJP has supported Independent candidate Preeti Mohapatra, who is the wife of a Gujarati industrialist considered to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The nomination of Mohapatra was proposed by some BJP legislators, members of smaller parties and Independents. The BJP's move to support Mohapatra is seen as a bid to stop Congress leader Kapil Sibal. He has been nominated by the Congress, which can barely push one of its candidates, with each successful candidate requiring 36 votes in the 403-member house but the party only having 29 members.
In Haryana, where the BJP does not have adequate numbers to get two candidates elected, has nominated Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh as its candidate. With extra votes in hand, the BJP has supported media baron Subhash Chandra, who has filed nomination as an Independent candidate for the second Rajya Sabha seat from the state.
Senior lawyer R.K. Anand has also filed nomination in Haryana as an Independent candidate and has support of the main opposition Indian National Lok Dal.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has nominated Anil Madhav Dave and M.J. Akbar as its two candidates for the three vacant seats. With an eye to the third seat, BJP has fielded Vinod Gotiya, a state BJP office bearer, as an Independent candidate.
This move of the BJP is seen as a ploy to thwart the election of Congress candidate Vivek Tankha, who is short of only one vote.
A total of 58 votes are needed to win for each Rajya Sabha seat from Madhya Pradesh. While the BJP will safely win the first two seats, the party will have 50 legislators remaining for the third seat.
With eight votes short for Gotia's victory, the BJP is aiming to garner support of BSP and Independent members.
The BJP has 166 legislators while the Congress has 57. Bahujan Samaj Party has four legislators. There also are three Independent members in the assembly.
In Uttarakhand, where the BJP's move to dislodge the Harish Rawat government did not pay off, it has not nominated any candidate. However, its two leaders Gita Thakur and Anil Goel have filed nominations as Independents against Pradeep Tamta, the joint candidate of the Congress and PDF (Peoples Democratic Front) -- the latter is supporting the Harish Rawat government in the state. The BJP has 28 legislators in the state.
Despite BJP's efforts to win extra seats in these polls, the Congress will continue to remain the single-largest party in the 245-member House. However, the BJP will definitely narrow the gap.
Out of the total 57 seats being vacated, 14 each belong to BJP and Congress. Six members belong to BSP, five are from Janata Dal-United, and three each from Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal and AIADMK.
Also, two each are from Telugu Desam Party, DMK and Nationalist Congress Party while one each is from the Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal besides Independent member Vijay Mallya.
The biennial elections were necessitated as 55 members from 15 states are retiring between June and August. One seat each from Rajasthan and Karnataka have also been vacated -- by Anand Sharma (Congress) and Vijay Mallya (Independent), respectively -- and will also go for polls.