Elections in India are a routine affair as it should be in a democratic country. This directly lets the politician get feedback for their style of Politics. Even a loss for BJP in a much localised Panchayat or bypoll elections is reflected as the end of the Modi wave. But academic analysis has to be more serious than this. Proper analysis of any election highlights will show what worked and where the party can improve. Learning can be helpful in devising new policies, change of some strategies and targeted overhauling of the organisational structure. So let’s analyse the inside story behind the outcome of the recent Rajya Sabha elections.
Rajya Sabha Election results
The elections to the Rajya Sabha seats concluded on 10th June. Around 57 seats of the Upper House were at stake. On the last day to withdraw nominations, 41 members were elected unopposed. Out of the remaining sixteen seats which went for voting, BJP won eight seats. Congress bagged five seats, one seat each went to the kitty of Shiv Sena and NCP. One went to the independent candidate and media baron Kartikeya Sharma, who won with the backing of BJP and JJP.
RS Seats Won
Independent (backed by BJP-JJP)
The members to the Rajya Sabha are elected indirectly. The elected MLAs cast their vote to elect the RS members. So, it is important for the parties to keep their flocks intact, as the strength of the party in the state assemblies play a decisive role in electing RS members. It is construed that parties will win RS seats proportional to its assembly strength. That is why the win for BJP above its strength in the assemblies has been making headlines. It won 1 extra seat each in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Haryana. So, let’s understand what went wrong for the opposition and how BJP scripted this massive victory.
The RS elections in MH were held after two decades as earlier all candidates had been elected unopposed. Six seats were at stake in the state in which BJP won 3 seats, one above its member tally. As both the ruling coalition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and BJP led opposition were short to clinch the sixth seat in the state. The contest for 6th seat was between BJP’s candidate Dhananjay Mahadik and Sena’s Sanjay Pawar.
Fadnavis with his meticulous micro-level planning and strategies outfoxed the ruling MVA trio. He proved his deep understanding of the arithmetic of counting of the Electoral College and preferential voting pattern. The success was such that the fierce critic Sharad Pawar had to praise Fadnavis. He said Fadnavis performed a “miracle” by turning the independent MLAs in favour of his party.
How it happened and Number game at play?
The assembly strength in MH is 288, but effectively it was 285. Two jailed Ministers of NCP Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh were not given bail to cast vote as prisoners don’t have this right. One seat was vacant due to the demise of one SS MLA Ramesh Latke. During the counting one vote of SS was declared invalid. So a candidate needed 41 first preferential votes to sail through. While BJP had only 106 MLAs, enough only to sail their 2 candidates, but the sum of first preference to BJP’s three candidates came out to be 123. This meant that 17 independent MLAs and smaller parties voted for BJP.
Party and candidate
First Preferential Votes
BJP – Piyush Goyal
BJP – Anil Sukhdevrao Bonde
BJP – Dhanajya Mahadik
SS – Sanjay Raut
Congress – Imran Pratapgarhi
NCP – Praful Patel
Because of the preferential system of counting Mahadik got 96 Second Preference Votes (SPV) (SPV of all MLAs who voted for top candidates Goyal and Bonde). Further, BJP managed to sway 8 to 9 MLAs who were thought to be in the kitty of MVA. Fadnavis beautifully planned around the fact that surplus votes of only the top two candidates will be counted. He meticulously ensured that all MLAs who voted for Goyal or Bonde chose Mahadik as SPV. In this way, a seed of rebellion has been sowed in MH as all the three parties don’t go along very well and rifts between them may explode after this humiliation in RS elections.
Two RS seats went for polling in Haryana which has assembly strength of 90. But 89 MLAs cast their vote in the RS election additionally one vote was found invalid. This left the effective tally in the state at 88 MLAs. In cases where more than one RS seat is up for election, the original value of every valid ballot paper is fixed at 100 called original votes. So, according to the Election Commission’s formula each candidate required a quota of 2,934 (88×100/3+1).
BJP – Krishna Lal Panwar
Independent – Kartikeya
Congress – Ajay Maken
BJP candidate Panwar got 36 FPV, that is, a quota of 3600 (36×100). This makes a surplus of 666. Out of all the 36 MLAs who polled for Panwar, 11 of them polled SPV to Kartikeya Sharma. Since it is not the original vote, it has a different value (666/11 = 60). Now effectively Sharma got a quota of 2960 which heralded him pass the victory line (23×100 + 11×60). But the funny thing is that Congress in Haryana didn’t lose because it fell short behind the touch line. In reality, its ship was sunk from inside by none other than Kuldeep Bishnoi. The Congress MLA from Adampur cross-voted to BJP-JJP backed Independent candidate Sharma instead of casting vote to a Gandhi loyalist, Ajay Maken.
Congress candidate Ajay Maken received a quota of 2900 (29×100). With this Congress was yet another time humiliated because of its internal fight.
Reason for the Congress’ humiliation
Congress has a habit of being humiliated because of its own party leaders and members. Its internal fights always come out in the open. In Haryana, it was an open secret that the party unit had been divided into two factions – Kuldeep Bishnoi group and the former CM Bhupinder Hooda camp. The grand old party instead of finding an amicable solution between the two rival camps opted for an ‘Ostrich strategy’. It always denies any existence of rifts within the party until it explodes, and the most notable face ditches them. As usual they find nothing wrong in them but term the outgoing member as a traitor, greedy and whatnot. After the humiliation, the party didn’t try to short things with the rebel leader Bishnoi, and instead expelled him.
Congress expels party MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi from all his present party positions, with immediate effect.
After his expulsion, Adampur MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi made several tweets showing his anguish with the Congress party. Bishnoi said that the party had made many changes in the past to act swiftly and strongly but it missed out on all opportunities. He also took pot shots at the party’s selectivity, dismissing his indiscipline as a voice of his conscience.
He tweeted, “Congress also has rules for some leaders and exceptions for others. Rules are applied selectively. Indiscipline has been repeatedly ignored in the past. In my case, I listened to my soul and acted on my morals”.
Congress also has rules for some leaders and exceptions for others. Rules are applied selectively. Indiscipline has been repeatedly ignored in the past. In my case, I listened to my soul & acted on my morals…2/2 pic.twitter.com/VwHy8NBWCE
In Karnataka the tussle was for four RS seats. The fight was between Congress, BJP and JDS. Both JDS and Congress failed to find common ground and could not stitch alliance. This gave an easy path for the already strong Saffron Party, BJP. While BJP leader and Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai held his flock together and all the party members followed the whip issued by the party. Former allies JDS and Congress were outraged at each other and acted akin to sworn enemies. The fight was fuelled when Siddaramaiah wrote open letters to the JDS MLAs to vote for Congress candidate Mansoor Ali Khan. This further upset the Former CM Kumaraswamy led JDS.
But the open letter by Congress leader Siddaramaiah helped it to make a small dent in the JDS camp. Two JDS MLAs Srinivas Gowda and Srinivas Gubbi went against their party line and cast vote in favour of Congress candidate. All in all Congress’ tally ferried one seat as Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh won the RS seat. After counting the election officials declared Union Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, MLC Lehar Singh Siroya, actor turned politician Jaggesh and Congress Former Minister Jairam Ramesh as winners of the RS seats.
The party in Rajasthan had enough numbers to pull out one seat in its favour and it successfully achieved that aim. The larger victory of the party in other states was somewhat soured by the cross voting in Rajasthan. The party would not treat this lightly as elections are due in the state. The party seems to be the favourite in the upcoming elections owing to the misgovernance by the Gehlot administration. The party will want to solve the rifts between Vasundhara Raje and Satish Punia-Shekhawat faction to avoid any untoward results.
The outcome of the Rajya Sabha election has vindicated few things. One that Congress has moved beyond ‘Course correction’ and no one can resurrect it to its old times. Second, the Congress is failing to accommodate regional parties to stitch alliances. Third, the other opposition parties may try to project unity against the BJP but their egos and over ambitions will always collide. With all this in mind the upcoming elections seems to be a cake walk for the BJP, lest it does something to worsen its image, and weaken the Modi wave.