Rajasthan: Cong wins two Rajya Sabha seats, BJP bags one
Jaipur, June 19: The Congress won two Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan and the BJP got one in the elections held here on Friday. Both ruling party nominees, AICC general secretary and former Union minister K C Venugopal and state unit general secretary Neeraj Dangi, were declared elected.
Rajasthan BJP vice president Rajendra Gehlot won the third seat. Onkar Singh Lakhawat, the second candidate fielded by the opposition party, lost. With the two wins, the number of Congress members in the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan has increased to three. The remaining seven seats from the state are with the BJP.
Out of the 200 MLA in the Rajasthan Assembly, 198 cast their vote. Rajasthan minister and Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal and CPM’s Girdhari Lal kept away due to their health. K C Venugopal got 64 votes, his party colleague Neeraj Dangi 59 and BJP’s Rajendra Gehlot 54. Lakhawat, the defeated candidate, got 20 votes.
One vote, cast in favour of the BJP, was rejected. The results were on predictable lines. In a House of 200, the Congress has 107 MLAs and is supported by 13 independents, two CPM MLAs, two Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLAs and one from Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The BJP has 72 MLAs and the support of three Rashtriya Loktantrik Party members -– enough to win just one seat.
The elections at the state assembly building were conducted following social distancing norms to guard against the spread of coronavirus. The MLAs entered after thermal screening and were given masks. Each legislator was given a separate pen to mark the ballot paper. But there was a flutter when Congress MLA Wajib Ali came to cast his vote wearing a full PPE kit.
The MLA has recently returned from Australia. The BJP protested, saying that he was violating quarantine norms and a police complaint was also lodged later. The MLA, however, said he has already tested negative for COVID-19.
Newly elected Congress MPs Venugopal and Dangi said they will raise the issues that concern the state in the Upper House.
“I will be the voice for Rajasthan in the Rajya Sabha,” Venugopal said. He listed farmers’ problems, the locust menace and issues related to rural job guarantee scheme MGNREGS. Congratulating the new MPs, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said it was a victory of the party's ideology, policies and programmes under the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
“My compliments to all MLAs from other parties and independents who voted for our candidates and who remained firm in supporting us despite several attempts by the BJP to lure them,” he said.
“We are happy that together we ensured that those forces, which plotted to disrupt the democratic process on the basis of money power, get defeated,” he tweeted. The Congress had confined its MLAs to a hotel for several days before the elections, claiming that the BJP was trying to poach them.
The BJP had dismissed the move as theatrics. It too shifted its MLAs to a hotel for a couple of days, saying this was being done for their “training”.
AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called the results a victory for democracy and the defeat of a conspiracy. He said the win was a birthday gift for party leader Rahul Gandhi, who has just turned 50.
BJP national vice president and former chief minister Vasundhara Raje congratulated Rajendra Gehlot for his win.
“I am confident that you will continue to discharge your duties in national development by raising issues related to public interest in the Upper House of Parliament,” Raje tweeted.