New Delhi: Union commerce minister Anand Sharma, former Union ministers Ram Jethmalani and Ram Vilas Paswan, senior leaders Oscar Fernandes, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, and industrialist Vijay Mallya were among 18 candidates elected to the Rajya Sabha (RS) on Thursday.
Polling was held for five seats in Bihar, four each in Rajasthan and Karnataka, three in Orissa, and two in Jharkhand. Members of the Upper House of Parliament are elected by state legislatures for six-year terms.
In Bihar, Rudy, who is a spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was elected for a second successive term. He won as a candidate of the ruling National Democratic Alliance, which includes the Janata Dal-United.
Paswan, who heads the Lok Janshakti Party, won as a candidate of the opposition coalition led by Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was forced to contest for the RS after losing in election to the Lok Sabha, the Lower House, held last year.
In Rajasthan, Sharma won as a candidate of the ruling Congress party, along with Ashk Ali Tak. But former Union minister Santosh Bagrodia lost as a Congress-backed independent candidate in a closely fought election.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist’s decision to abstain from voting helped two candidates of the opposition BJP—Jethmalani and V.P. Singh—emerge victorious despite the party falling short of the required numbers.
Jethmalani’s candidature had been controversial. Although he was backed by senior BJP leaders such as L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi, party president Nitin Gadkari was not in his favour, according to media reports. Gadkari’s unwillingness to clear Jethmalani’s nomination had been seen as the reason for Advani boycotting an important BJP meeting early this month.
The presence of Bangalore-based businessman B.G. Uday in the fray necessitated polling in Karnataka. Mallya won with the support of the ruling BJP, along with former BJP president Naidu and Ayanur Manjunath. Fernandes was a Congress candidate.
Pyarimohan Mohapatra, Sashi Bhushan Behera and Baishnab Charan Parida of the ruling Biju Janata Dal won in Orissa.
In Jharkhand, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress bagged a seat each, while the BJP drew a blank.
JMM candidate K.D. Singh, chairman of the Alchemist group of hospitals, and Dheeraj Prasad Sahu of the Congress were elected. But the BJP’s Ajay Maroo lost.
PTI contributed to this story.