The Election Commission has sounded the bugle for elections to 55 Rajya Sabha seats which will fall vacant in April as a result of retirement of members. The 55 seats, spread across 17 states of the country, is likely to witness a tough contest between the Congress party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which continues to be in minority in the Upper House.
The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that polls to 55 Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in April will be held on March 26. While the notification for the biennial elections will be issued on March 6, the commission has set March 13 as the last date for filing nominations. Counting of votes will be held on the evening of March 26, an hour after the conclusion of polls at 5 PM.
Among prominent names who will be retiring from the Rajya Sabha include Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, Union minister Ramdas Athawale of the RPI, Congress veteran Motilal Vora and former Union minister Vijay Goel.
The 17 states from where the Rajya Sabha seats are up for elections include Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur Rajasthan and Meghalaya.
Maharashtra has seven seats up for grabs, the highest number of vacancies in the Rajya Sabha among states. It is followed by Tamil Nadu (6) and West Bengal and Bihar at five each. In Gujarat, the terms of the four seats will expire on April 9.
It is likely that regional parties such as NCP, Shiv Sena, DMK and Trinamool will hold on to their seats in the Upper House, whereas the BJP could have an upper hand in the northeast states, besides Gujarat and Bihar. The Congress, on the other hand, could improve its tally from states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where it won Assembly elections recently.
As per the current structure of the Rajya Sabha, the ruling National Democratic Alliance holds 125 seats in the 245-member House. Of these, BJP holds 82 seats while seven seats are vacant. The Opposition, on the other hand, holds 113 seats in the Upper House. Of these, 68 seats are held by the UPA parties — Congress has 46 — while 45 seats are held by other parties which include the TMC, Samajwadi Party, TRS and Left Parties, among others.