55 Rajya Sabha seats to go to polls on March 26

The terms of the members who had resigned in the recent past were also ending in April.

THE ELECTION Commission on Tuesday announced elections to 55 Rajya Sabha seats spread across 17 states.

A notification for the biennial elections will be issued on March 6. The last date of filing nominations is March 13. The polling is scheduled for March 26 and the results will be announced the same day.

As many as 51 of these seats are falling vacant on different dates in April due to retirement of sitting members, while four seats are already vacant due to the resignations of members. The terms of the members who had resigned in the recent past were also ending in April.

Out of the 55 seats going to polls, the BJP currently occupies 18 and the Congress 11. Out of seats for which elections will be held, seven are in Maharashtra, six in Tamil Nadu, five each in West Bengal and Bihar, four each in Odisha, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, three each in Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two each in Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Jharkhand and one each in Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya.

Explained: Where are the vacancies in Rajya Sabha, and what are next month’s elections likely to produce

Since Rajya Sabha MPs are elected by MLAs, the political party with more MLAs picks up more seats. Changes become inevitable in the states where there has been a change of power in the last assembly elections. No drastic shake-up happens unless a party or an alliance makes a clean sweep in assembly polls.

For instance, no big shift is expected in Maharashtra. The BJP and its ally, RPI(A) have two of the seven Maharashtra seats going to the polls. The BJP will pick up three seats, one up from its current tally. The NCP can at best retain its current two seats, that too after pooling its own surplus votes of the Shiv Sena and smaller parties and Independents. The Congress number, one, will remain unchanged.

At the end of the March polls, the BJP tally may be two seats up, after counting gains and losses. The party gains would come from Maharashtra, Assam, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

After back and forth in various states, the Congress will be left with a loss of two seats, notwithstanding its gains in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The principal opposition party can partially or completely neutralise this loss if the JMM in Jharkhand and the RJD in Bihar come to its help.

The BJD will gain one seat in the current round, winning three of the four going to the polls. The BJP strength is inadequate for bagging the fourth seat on its own. It can do so if Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik helps it. The Congress will drop the one seat it has.

In Andhra, the YSR Congress is expected to win all four seats, leading to the loss of two seats for the Congress and one each for the TDP and TRS.

The retirees include NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Union minister Ramdas Athawale (RPI-Athawale), Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh (JD-U), former Madhya Pradesh chief ministers Digvijaya Singh and Motilal Vora and former Union minister Kumari Selja (all Congress) and former Union minister Vijay Goel (BJP). Of these, Pawar, Digvijaya Singh and Selja are expected to come back, considering the party strength in the assemblies of their home-states.

House strength

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha comprises 245 members — 233 of them elected by state assemblies and 12 nominated by the President.

The ruling NDA has a strength of 114 — BJP (82), AIADMK (11), JD-U (6), SAD (3), LJP (1), RPI-A (1), AGP (1), BPF (1), PMK (1), Independents (4) and Nominated (3).

The opposition UPA has 62 members — Congress (46), DMK (5), RJD (4), NCP (4), IUML (1), KC(M) (1) and MDMK (1).

The parties outside the NDA and UPA also have a strength of 62 — Trinamool Congress (13), Samajwadi Party (9), BJD (7), TRS (6), CPI-M (5), BSP (4), AAP (3), JKPDP (2), Shiv Sena (3), TDP (2), YSR Congrress (2), NPF (1), SDF (1), JD-S (1), CPI (1) and Independents (2).

A total of seven seats are vacant. One seat in the Nominated category has fallen vacant.

The ruling BJP can have a person of its choice nominated to the Upper House by the President. —ENS