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EditorialRS Polls: Cong in slump, BJP hits

RS Polls: Cong in slump, BJP hits


RS Polls: Cong in slump, BJP hits

The problems in Congress are only getting worse. The outcome of last Friday's Rajya Sabha election highlighted the Gandhis' waning influence on party members once again. Nowhere was this more evident than in , where a frontal challenge to the Gandhis by a rogue party legislator forced 10 Janpaths' designated candidate Ajay Maken to drop out.

Kuldeep Bishnoi, a Congress MLA and the son of the late Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, went against the party whip to express his displeasure with former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda being chosen to lead the Haryana Congress. Bishnoi exacted his vengeance, ensuring Maken's defeat. The winner was Independent Kartikey Sharma, a media magnate backed by the ruling BJP-JJP coalition, who won by a sliver of a vote after one Congress vote was annulled and Bishnoi voted against the party. Perhaps the Gandhis had foreseen problems in Haryana, despite the fact that with 31 MLAs, their nominee's win would normally be assured.

However, this is not a typical Congress session. It is currently in a funk, thanks to the Gandhis' waning charisma. For the safest seat, they had to choose between two loyalists, Maken and Randeep Singh Surjewala. Surjewala was fielded in Rajasthan, where the party was guaranteed at least two seats and a third provided Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot marshalled all of his regular resources to corral independents and members of other parties. In the end, he accomplished exactly that, winning all three seats, with the BJP taking one seat due to its numerical advantage in the House. A single BJP MLA who voted for the Congress has been suspended and will most certainly be removed soon.

The most critical struggle, however, took place in Maharashtra. The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi was humiliated when the BJP won three seats, one more than it needed to win. With the BJP-backed third candidate Dhananjay Mahadik defeating the Shiv Sena's Sanjay Pawar, the leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis scored a personal win. Since Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray abandoned the saffron coalition to create a power-sharing deal with the Congress and the NCP, the previous chief minister has worked relentlessly to pull the rug from under his feet.

The blow to the Sena, on the other hand, was unlikely to instil a sense of moderation and sobriety among the party's loudmouths. Nothing is permanent in life, and even less so in . Those with large chinks in their armour must be modest, or their bluff will be called sooner rather than later. Indeed, if someone like Sharad Pawar praises Fadnavis for his “election management,” one has to admit that the MVA was dealt a crippling blow.

Meanwhile, Pawar must be a strong man to continue working without resentment despite the knowledge that two of his senior colleagues, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, are serving time in prison. The two NCP legislators' request to vote in the RS election was denied by the courts. Pawar's confidant Praful Patel, as well as the Sena's spokesperson Sanjay Raut, were both back in the Rajya Sabha. Priyanka Gandhi's attempt to attract back the substantial Muslim support for the Congress resulted in the election of Imran Pratapgarhi from Uttar Pradesh to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra.

The composition of the Upper House —- some may say some elders, these! —- will be put to the next vital test after the biennial RS poll, which saw some nail-biting contests with the counting continuing well into the early hours of the morning last Saturday. Despite the Congress's previous hoity-toity leadership bending over itself to seek Opposition support for a consensus nominee opposing the NDA's presidential decision, the ruling BJP is sitting pretty.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.


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