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New Delhi:

Three seats in two Congress-ruled states and one in Uttar Pradesh are in for a tough fight during Tuesday’s Rajya Sabha polls. Sources have indicated that cross-voting by Opposition MLAs are very likely, for which the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are keeping strict watch.

In Karnataka, the ruling Congress has shipped off its MLAs to a “safe house” to prevent undue influences — a frequently occurring situation in the chequered politics of the state.

For Himachal Pradesh, the measures were not so drastic. The ruling Congress there has issued a whip to its MLAs for election on its sole Rajya Sabha seat — a move that has drawn sneers from the BJP.

The Samajwadi Party — the main Opposition in Uttar Pradesh — meanwhile says all is well, even though sources say at least 10 of the party’s MLAs are ready to cross-vote.

The ruling BJP and the SP have the numbers to send seven and three members unopposed to the Rajya Sabha. But the BJP upped stakes by fielding Sanjay Seth — a former SP member and industrialist — as its eighth candidate.

To get elected, a candidate from the state needs nearly 37 first preference votes. Leaders of the BJP have claimed that at least 10 MLAs of the SP are in touch with them.

The SP has fielded actor-MP Jaya Bachchan, retired IAS officer Alok Ranjan and Dalit leader Ramji Lal Suman. The decision has apparently alienated its ally Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) leader Pallavi Patel, who earlier said she would not vote as she did not agree with the decision to field Ms Bachchan and Mr Ranjan.

While numbers had ensured smooth sailing for the Congress in four of Karnataka’s three seats, the BJP-Janata Dal Secular alliance queered the pitch by fielding a second candidate. In case there were four candidates, each needed 45 votes to win, but in case of more candidates, preference votes kick in.

The Congress has 134 MLAs, the BJP has 66 and the JD(S) 19, while others account for four. Of the four, the Congress claims the support of two Independents and Darshan Puttanaiah from Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha, and is confident of winning three seats.

On Monday, the Congress shifted all its MLAs to a hotel, marking the beginning of the state’s trademark resort politics. All parties have issued whips to their MLAs ahead of today’s election.

In Himachal, the candidate for whom the Congress would be battling is the party’s senior leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, against whom the BJP has fielded its core committee member Harsh Mahajan. While the Congress has a clear majority with 40 MLAs, the BJP has 25 members. Three MLAs are Independents of whom two are BJP rebels. The BJP, sources said, is now eyeing dissatisfied Congress MLAs to win over.

The election is expected to be prestige battle for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who took over the reins of the state after last year’s assembly polls.

56 Rajya Sabha seats across 15 states were to get new members, 41 of whom have already been elected unopposed. The voting for the rest will be held today from 9 am to 4 pm. Counting will begin at 5 pm and the results are expected late in the evening.

The ruling BJP holds 28 of the 56 seats –including the one left vacant by party lawmaker Kirodi Lal Meena, who has become a minister in Rajasthan. After elections, it will have at least 29 seats. In Uttar Pradesh, INDIA bloc will gain two seats as the SP is expected to improve its tally from one to three seats.


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