Final dash before RS poll day: From check-outs and flights back home to mock tests and strategy sessions

A day before the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections, both the Congress and the BJP kept a watch on their legislators in Rajasthan, Haryana, and Maharashtra that are expected to witness close contests. The legislators of the two parties underwent last-minute “training sessions”, mock tests, and meetings. The Haryana Congress legislators flew from Raipur, where they had been sequestered, to Delhi, while their colleagues in Rajasthan were flown from Udaipur to Jaipur. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena also held sessions for its legislators while the BJP said two of its ailing MLAs would be airlifted to Mumbai.

Here is a look at the poll mathematics and what went down on the last day before the elections:


In Haryana, two seats are at stake and there are three candidates. The BJP’s Krishan Panwar — former transport minister and five-time MLA — requires 31 votes to win. But for the second seat, 30 votes are needed for a candidate to win. Congress candidate Ajay Maken, a former Union minister, and former Union minister Venod Sharma’s media-baron son Karticeya Sharma, who is in the fray as an Independent candidate with the support of 10 MLAs of BJP ally Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), are vying for the second seat.

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The BJP’s strength in the 90-member state assembly is 40 while the JJP has 10 MLAs. The Congress has 31 MLAs while there are seven Independents and one MLA each from the Indian National Lok Dal and the Haryana Lokhit Party. Polling will be held at Haryana Vidhan Sabha from 9 am till 4 pm.

BJP: Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala of the JJP, and state BJP president Om Prakash Dhankar met BJP and JJP MLAs at the Oberoi-Sukhvilas resort on the outskirts of Chandigarh where the ruling coalition’s MLAs and a few independent legislators have been staying since Wednesday. Union ministers Gajendra Shekhawat and Vinod Tawre were also expected to meet the MLAs late evening.

Sources in the BJP told The Indian Express that to avoid last-minute snags, all the MLAs, especially the 17 first-time legislators, underwent mock tests on filling ballot papers. “Some of the MLAs who will be casting their precious votes for the first time in a Rajya Sabha election need to be trained and briefed on the ‘Dos and Don’ts’. This time, the stakes are extremely high for all three political parties — the BJP, the JJP, and the Congress. No party can afford to commit a ‘mistake’ in casting the vote,” said a BJP leader.

Congress: The Opposition party’s MLAs have been sequestered at a resort in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, for almost a week. They were brought to New Delhi on Thursday evening on a chartered flight and were expected to be put up at a Rajasthan government guest house in Chanakyapuri.

CLP leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Maken, and the party’s poll observers Bhupesh Baghel, Rajeev Shukla, and Udai Bhan (the state Congress chief) were expected to reach Chandigarh on Thursday evening. The Congress MLA from Adampur, Kuldeep Bishnoi, who has been unhappy with the party since not being given a place in the recent state leadership revamp, also reached Chandigarh on Thursday evening and met a few independent MLAs.

Sources in the Congress said Bishnoi had “softened” his stance in the last two days. “Ajay Maken got in touch with him. The party is hopeful that he will cast his vote in favor of the party’s nominee,” said one of the MLAs who met Bishnoi.

Several legislators, however, expressed fear that there could be last-minute technical glitches or abstentions that might spoil the Congress’s chances. “BJP would not have backed the independent candidate if they were not sure of his victory. They must have something up their sleeves,” said a senior MLA.


There are four Upper House seats up for grabs from the state while the number of candidates is five. Candidates will need 41 votes to win. The Congress, with 108 MLAs in the House, has nominated three candidates — Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik, and Pramod Tiwari. The BJP, which has 71 legislators, has fielded only former MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari and is backing independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra.

The Congress needs 15 more votes for all three of its candidates to sail through while the BJP needs 11 surplus votes for the candidates it is backing.

Congress: On Thursday afternoon, the Congress moved its MLAs and other legislators supporting it from the resort in Udaipur where they had been sequestered this week to the airport, and flew most of them to Jaipur on a special aircraft. Some others took a smaller chartered aircraft to the capital.

In Jaipur, they were sequestered in a hotel in Kookas on the city outskirts. There, they were scheduled to undergo a final training session in the evening.

BJP: The Opposition party’s legislators were already staying in a Jaipur resort and will head to the state Assembly to cast their votes on Friday morning. Like the past two days, BJP MLAs underwent a training session on voting from 6 pm and 7 pm. Earlier in the day, they attended sessions on “political personalities blessed with life values”, “Congress’s anti-people policies and people’s campaign”, and the “BJP’s contribution in reconstructing India”, among others.


Six Rajya Sabha seats are at stake in Maharashtra with seven candidates in the fray. The candidates need 42 votes to win. Of the 288 seats in the Assembly, the BJP has 106, the Shiv Sena 55, the Congress 44, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 53 (but two of its MLAs, Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, are in jail). Independents and smaller parties have a combined 29 votes.

The Sena has fielded Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar while the NCP and Congress candidates are former Union minister Praful Patel and Imran Pratapgarhi respectively. Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mhadik will contest for the BJP. While the ruling alliance has the numbers to get three of its elected candidates, the BJP can send its two primary candidates to the Upper House of Parliament. This will leave the Shiv Sena and the BJP to battle it out for the sixth seat, pitting Mhadik and Pawar, both of whom are from Kolhapur, against each other.

Provided no cross-voting takes place, the Congress will be left with two surplus votes after getting Pratapgarhi elected, and the NCP will have nine surplus votes (if Malik and Deshmukh are not allowed to vote). The Congress and the NCP can pass these on to the Sena, which will have 13 surplus votes of its own after getting one of its elected candidates. Besides, there are four Independents who are part of the government and are likely to vote for the Sena. Altogether, the surplus votes of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena amount to 24 in a normal situation. However, given the threat of cross-voting, the surplus votes of the three parties may be far less.

Shiv Sena: The party’s MLAs have been staying in a south Mumbai hotel for the last few days. Sources in the party said its MLAs were sensitised about the voting process during the day and informed of ways to ensure their votes do not get invalidated.

Congress: The party’s MLAs have been sequestered at Hotel Renaissance in Mumbai’s Powai area. The Congress’s central poll observer Mallikarjun Kharge, who is in the city, and All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary for Maharashtra H.K. Patil addressed MLAs on the voting strategy and mock polling was organised.

Sources in the party said all the MLAs would leave the hotel at 7 am and reach the Assembly before 9 am, when polling begins. The party has decided that MLAs will have to show their ballot papers to the Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat and state chief Nana Patole before casting votes.

Sources said MLA Sangram Thopte from Bhor in Pune district was scheduled to reach the hotel late Thursday evening as there was an election in his area.

BJP: The Opposition party’s members have been put up at the Taj President in south Mumbai. Earlier in the day, the party decided to airlift two of its ailing MLAs, Laxman Jagtap (Pimpri Chinchwad) and Mukta Tilak (Kasbapeth in Pune) to ensure full attendance at the polls.

At a meeting late in the evening, the party’s state leadership addressed the MLAs. “We are confident of getting the support of smaller parties and independents,” said a highly placed source in the party.


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