How the BJP gained with major cross-voting and rocked the Congress Govt in Himachal Pradesh


Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu presides over a cabinet meeting with Congress MLAs, in Shimla on Thursday (ANI Photo)

Rajya Sabha Polls Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania disqualifies the six Congress MLAs who cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls

Our Bureau
New Delhi/Shimla

Beating all expectations, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 30 seats, including 20 unopposed out of 56 Rajya Sabha seats for which the elections were held on Tuesday. The numbers will take the BJP’s tally in Rajya Sabha to 97 and that of BJP-led NDA to 117, just four short of the majority mark of 121 in the 240-member House once all 56 members are sworn in

Of 56 Rajya Sabha seats that fall vacant in April, BJP won 30; 20 unopposed and 10 in elections held Tuesday. The Rajya Sabha polls for 15 seats across three states were marked by cross-voting, with the BJP winning 10 seats, the Congress three and the Samajwadi Party two seats.

Last week, as many as 41 candidates were declared winners as there were no other candidates in the fray on those seats. The BJP was the main gainer, having won an additional seat in Uttar Pradesh and bagging one in Himachal Pradesh.

Heading into polling day, the ruling NDA had 109 MPs in the Upper House, 10 members short of the halfway mark in the 238 member Rajya Sabha. The Opposition INDIA bloc had 89 MPs. During the biennial polls, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of seats going to vote (10), followed by Maharashtra and Bihar (6 each), Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal (5 each), Karnataka and Gujarat (4 each), Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan (3 each), and Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh (1 each).

However, after the results out on Tuesday evening, the BJP remained the single-largest party in RS with 97 members (including five nominated members who joined the party) followed by Congress with 29 members, Trinamool Congress with 13, DMK and AAP with 10 each, BJD and YSRCP with nine each, BRS with seven, RJD with six, CPM with five, and AIADMK and JD(U) with four each.

The NDA, with 117 members, is now only four short of the majority mark of 121

Now, Himachal Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajeev Bindal said on Thursday that the Congress has no right to stay in power after the party lost the Rajya Sabha election despite having a majority in the state assembly. “Our experts analyze the situation and after looking at their judgements, we will take a decision. It is too early to say anything. Congress was totally exposed in the Rajya Sabha elections…Congress has lost its opportunity,” Rajeev Bindal said, adding, “Morally, they have no right to stay in power.”

In a stunning upset for the Congress, on Tuesday, the ruling Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi lost the Rajya Sabha election to the BJP’s Harsh Mahajan despite the Congress enjoying a comfortable majority in the state assembly.

Both candidates secured 34 votes each in the 68-member state assembly. Victory tilted towards Mahajan after a draw of lots was held as a tie-breaker.

After the 2022 Assembly elections, the Congress had 40 MLAs, while the BJP had 25 in the 68-member state assembly. The remaining three seats are held by independents.  With the six rebel MLAs disqualified, the strength of the house comes down from 68 to 62, and the halfway mark is 32. With the loss of 6 MLAs the Congress now has 34 MLAs and the BJP, with independents, has 28. The fortunes of the Congress will now rest on its ability to keep the rest of its flock together.

The BJP has claimed the Congress has lost the moral standing to be in power after losing majority in the Assembly.  Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania disqualified the six Congress MLAs who cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania said, “Six MLAs, who contested on the Congress symbol, attracted provisions of the anti-defection law against themselves…I declare that the six people cease to be members of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly with immediate effect.”

The beleaguered Congress government in Himachal Pradesh got a bit of reprieve on Wednesday after former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh, who had tendered his resignation as minister, agreed not to press its acceptance following intervention of party observers sent to the hill state to deal with the crisis and Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu sought to defuse the tension saying “we believe in forgiveness, not revenge.” The crisis, which hit the Congress government on Tuesday during Rajya Sabha polls as six party MLAs cross-voted in favor of BJP, escalated on Wednesday with PWD Minister Vikramaditya Singh tendering his resignation. The Congress government also faced trouble in the state assembly as 15 BJP MLAs including Jairam Thakur were suspended .

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