New Delhi: Rebellion by Congress MLAs in Haryana on Saturday helped BJP-backed Independent candidate Subhash Chandra score an upset victory as Congress stalwart Kapil Sibal pulled it off in Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha polls in which union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Birender Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman and M A Naqvi won comfortably.
Senior Congress leaders Oscar Fernandes and Jairam Ramesh were elected from Karnataka where cross-voting by rebel JD(S) MLAs enabled ruling Congress gain a third seat. Former IPS officer K C Ramamurthy won the seat defeating JD(S)-backed Independent candidate B M Farooq, a businessman, in the third seat.
The major jolt for Congress came in Haryana where the party suffered through heavy cross-voting by its 14 MLAs that led to the defeat of the party-backed Independent candidate R K Anand who was mainly fielded by its arch rival INLD.
Subhash Chandra, a media baron, defeated Anand, a senior lawyer and a former MP, after 14 votes of Congress were rejected, state Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma told the media in Chandigarh.
Even before the elections, there was speculation that the overwhelming majority of the 17 Congress MLAs, owing allegiance to former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, would not toe the party line on supporting Anand.
The Congress also failed in its attempt to secure victory for JMM candidate Basant Soren, son of party supreme Shibu Soren, backed by it in Jharkhand where a ruling BJP nominee Mahesh Poddar won by a whisker after an arrested JMM MLA and a Congress MLA facing arrest could not vote.
In the 27 seats spread across seven states that were up for grabs today, 11 went to BJP, 6 to Congress, 7 to Samajwadi Party, 2 to BSP and one Independent. Thirty of the 57 seats in the current round of biennial elections were decided without contest last week.
Former union minister and Congress heavyweight Sibal managed to defeat BJP-backed Independent candidate and socialite Preeti Mahapatra, wife of a Mumbai-based businessman, without the anticipated support of BSP whose two candidates Satish Chandra Mishra and Ashok Sidharth won comfortably.
In Haryana, while BJP leader Birender Singh was assured of a comfortable win for one seat, the main centre of interest was the fight was between Chandra and Anand for the other seat.
The Haryana Assembly has 90 members. Out of 90 votes, Birender got 40 votes while Anand got 21 and Chandra got 15 votes while 14 votes were rejected.
After rejection of 14 votes, Birender Singh needed just 26 votes for his own win and his 14 surplus votes were transferred to Chandra as second preference votes, taking the total number of his votes to 29, Rambilas Sharma said.
Singh rejected allegations of horse trading. "Congress votes were found to be invalid. After votes which were needed for my victory, the share of my votes got transferred to Chandra and this took tally of his votes to 29," he said.
After Anand's defeat, leader of opposition in Haryana Assembly and INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala blamed Congress for it.
"Congress party's 14 votes were rejected because they registered their votes with another pen other than the one provided by the Returning Officer to record their votes in the voting compartment," claimed Chautala....