The fight for Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana got interesting with media baron Subhash Chandra filing nomination as an independent candidate for the second seat falling vacant from the state.
The Congress party has not fielded any candidate for the seat but former party MP and senior lawyer R K Anand also filed his nomination as an independent candidate. It was the final day for filing of nominations to the biennial elections. Polls to 57 seats becoming vacant across 15 states will be held on June 11.
Chandra claimed the support of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators and said he had others across party lines. On Monday, state chief minister Manohar Lal had expressed hope that the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and BJP could reach a consensus to elect candidates on both seats unopposed. However, the Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD, main opposition party in the Haryana assembly, announced support for Anand. The 72-year-old Supreme Court lawyer had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on an INLD ticket from Faridabad.
The BJP has already re-nominated Union rural development minister Birender Singh from one of the two seats becoming vacant. Given its strength in the assembly, the BJP will have extra votes, which could go in favour of Chandra. BJP sources in Delhi said party MLAs would vote for Chandra.
Chandra had been an aspirant for a Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 elections and had organised BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi campaign in Hisar in the run-up to the polls. He had also expressed interest in contesting the Haryana assembly polls of 2014. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Modi had formally released Chandra’s autobiography at an event held in the PM’s residence.
Chandra is currently group chairman of the Zee TV group. In his autobiography ‘The Z factor: My journey as the wrong man at the right time’, Chandra has written about his association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, ideological parent of the BJP, in his younger days.
Anand was accompanied by opposition head in the Haryana assembly, Abhay Chautala (INLD), with other party MLAs, for filing his nomination. Chandra went with some BJP and independent MLAs for filing his papers.
Apart from a contest in Haryana that would warrant voting with three candidates for the two seats falling vacant, voting would also be necessitated in Uttar Pradesh, with social worker Preeti Mahapatra filing her nomination. This brought the number of candidates to 12 for 11 seats falling vacant.
Voting will also be required in two seats in Jharkhand, with three candidates in the fray.
In Rajasthan, former Union minister and businessman Kamal Morarka filed a nomination as an independent candidate, supported by the opposition Congress and independent MLAs. There are now five candidates for the four vacancies, all of which BJP candidates are expected to win.
In other states with Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant, candidates are set to be elected unopposed. These include Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.