Photo-finish in some seats likely in Saturday's Rajya Sabha polls

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New Delhi, Jun 11: A down-to-the-wire contest is likely in some of the seats in the high-stakes Rajya Sabha elections in seven states on Saturday, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana, where the fate of candidates including senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and senior lawyer R K Anand will be decided.

While 30 of the total 57 seats in the current round of biennial elections have already been decided without a contest, Saturday's polls will decide the fate of remaining 27 as BJP and Congress will be engaged in a keen battle for some of the states.

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Allegations of bribing JD(S) and Independent MLAs have marred the polls in Karnataka but the Election Commission has rejected demands for cancelling them.

All eyes are on Uttar Pradesh, where elections are being held to 11 seats. Interest is centred around a fight between Sibal and a BJP-backed independent socialite Preeti Mahapatra.

Sibal will need the support of BSP, which has 12 votes more than necessary for the success of its own candidates Satish Chandra Mishra and Ashok Sidharth.

BSP supremo Mayawati has maintained suspense over her party's support in Uttar Pradesh. But Sibal can draw heart from the fact that she has already extended backing for a Congress candidate in Madhya Pradesh by promising one vote required for senior Supreme Court lawyer Vivek Tankha, fielded by Congress. Congress has 29 MLAs and needs the backing of five more to see Sibal through.

The ruling SP has fielded seven candidates including Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma, who both rejoined the party recently, and Reoti Raman Singh. Its seventh candidate is, however, short of 9 first preference votes. SP has been promised backing by Ajit Singh-led RLD which has 8 MLAs.

The BJP has fielded Shiv Pratap Shukla, who is sure to get elected on its own 41 MLAs, and has offered 7 surplus votes to Mahapatra.

PTI

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