Explained | The battlefield for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections

The biennial Rajya Sabha polls are scheduled for June 10 and a close contest is expected in Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka

June 09, 2022 02:27 pm | Updated 07:49 pm IST

File photo of Parliamentarians in the Rajya Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

File photo of Parliamentarians in the Rajya Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. | Photo Credit: Sansad TV/ PTI

The story so far: While 41 candidates have been elected unopposed out of the 57 Rajya Sabha seats up for election across 15 states, a contest for 16 remaining would still be witnessed on June 10 in Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, where parties have fielded more nominees than their legislative strength in the State Assemblies.

The race for the biennial Rajya Sabha polls in those four States intensified as parties traded allegations of poaching or horse-trading. In Rajasthan, the ruling Congress demanded that an FIR be registered against BJP backed independent Independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra and BJP leaders for alleged horse-trading attempts while the BJP wrote to the Election Commission and Enforcement Directorate expressing apprehensions about possible horse-trading and use of black money in the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in Rajasthan, where voting for four seats will take place on June 10.

How are the Rajya Sabha members elected?

Only elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies can vote in a Rajya Sabha election. Polls are held to send a batch of new members to the Upper House every two years for a six-year term. A third of Rajya Sabha MPs from each State retire once in two years and polls are held to fill up the vacancies. The Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and is not subject to dissolution.

Candidates of a particular party can be elected to the Upper House based on their party’s strength in the State Legislative Assembly. Voting is by single transferable vote which means electors can vote for any number of candidates in order of their preference. A candidate requires a specified number of first preference votes to win and each vote has a value of 100.

The number of first preference votes required for a single MP varies in each State based on the size of the Legislative Assembly and the number of seats for which elections are taking place. For instance, one candidate requires at least 42 votes or a value of 4,200 to get elected from Maharashtra, is 36 in Andhra Pradesh, 45 in Karnataka, 76 in Madhya Pradesh, and so on.

Polling will be held from 9 am to 4 pm in the respective State Assemblies and votes would be counted from 5 pm on June 10.

What is the current composition of the Rajya Sabha?

The strength of the Rajya Sabha is 245, out of which 95 seats are held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as of May 25. The Congress (INC) holds the second-highest number of seats at 29, followed by the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) at 13, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) at 10, and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at eight each.


Notably, while its current tally is 95, the BJP had reached a tally of 100 in the Rajya Sabha last month, after winning three seats in the North East. It was the first time since 1988 that a ruling party touched this figure in the Upper House. The tally came down to 95 in early May as the terms of five of its MPs ended leading to their retirement.

Out of the 57 seats in the current round, 11 are in Uttar Pradesh; six seats each from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu; five from Bihar; four each from Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka; three each from Madhya Pradesh and Odisha; two each from Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab, and Haryana; and one from Uttarakhand.

The BJP held 24 of the 57 seats that became vacant; nine were Congress seats, four held by the Samajwadi Party (SP); three each by the BJD, DMK and AIADMK; two each by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP); and one each by the Shiv Sena, Janata Dal (United), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and by an independent MP.

Of the BJP’s 24 seats, it is likely to retain only 20 seats in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls, potentially bringing its current total of 95 members down to 91.

Retiring members include Kapil Sibal, Congress leaders Vivek Tankha, Jairam Ramesh and P. Chidambaram, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, BJP MPs Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal, Vijay Sahasrabudde and Syed Zafar Islam, and DMK’s T.K.S. Elangovan and R.S. Bharathi. Some of these members will be seeking fresh terms this election.

Projections for 57 Rajya Sabha seats going for elections from 15 states on June 10.

Projections for 57 Rajya Sabha seats going for elections from 15 states on June 10.

Prominent poll candidates and parties by state


The contest in Rajasthan is set to be tricky as both the Congress and the BJP have fielded candidates beyond their legislative strength In the Rajasthan Assembly. While Congress is well placed to secure two wins as it has a majority of 108 seats in the 200-member Legislative Assembly, where one candidate requires 41 first preference votes to win, It has announced the names of three candidates— the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, and members Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari.

Meanwhile, the BJP, with 71 seats in the Assembly, has the strength set to secure one Upper House berth but has backed an additional candidate. It has picked former State unit chief and party veteran Ghanshyam Tiwari and backed media baron Subhash Chandra, who is running as an independent. The fate of the fourth candidate will depend on who the independents and other parties in the Assembly lend their support. While there are 13 Independents, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) has three seats, the CPI(M) and the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) two each, and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has one. 


In Maharashtra, of the six seats being contested, the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition comprising the Shiv Sena (with 56 seats in the Legislative Assembly), NCP (53 seats), and Congress (44 seats) is set to secure three of the six Upper House berths as one win would require 42 first preference votes. The Shiv Sena, despite having the legislative strength to win one seat, has announced a candidate for another seat- local Kolhapur politician Sanjay Pawar. This seat was initially to be contested by Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati — an influential Maratha community leader and a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji —as an independent candidate, but the Shiv Sena soon staked its claim to the seat.

The BJP, which is numerically the single largest party (with 106 seats) is set to comfortably get two seats but has decided to contest for a third seat, making the completion for the sixth seat in the state more uncertain. It has picked Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and fielded Dhananjay Mahadik as the third nominee. This move has prompted allegations of “horse-trading” from the ruling Shiv Sena.


In Karnataka, where four seats are up for grabs, the contest for the fourth seat is expected to be tricky. While three seats were left vacant due to the retirement of Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP MP K.C. Ramamurthy and senior Congress member Jairam Ramesh, the fourth seat has been vacant since 2021 following the death of former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes.

Each candidate requires 45 first preference votes to win from the State. The BJP, with 119 MLAs, has enough votes to win two seats but has fielded a third candidate. The saffron party’s candidates — Kannada actor Jaggesh, Ms. Sitharaman, and MLC Lahar Singh Siroya have filed their nominations. The Congress too, with the requisite numbers for just one win, has picked two candidates — senior leader Jairam Ramesh and minority leader Mansoor Ali. The move by both parties to field extra candidates was triggered by the Janata Dal (Secular) fielding its candidate Kupendra Reddy, despite not having the numbers to secure even one berth.


In the State where two seats are up for polls, the last-minute entry of a second Congress candidate, media baron Kartikeya Sharma, has changed the course of the contest and exposed the faultlines of factionalism within the State Congress. The party, with 31 MLAs, has just enough strength to see initial nominee and Congress leader Ajay Maken through, but Mr. Sharma’s additional nomination is likely to make it tough for Mr. Maken. 

Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, meanwhile, has taken a dissident tone as he is upset at being ignored for the post of Pradesh Congress Committee chief and the Gandhis giving a free hand to former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Mr. Bishnoi’s vote will be crucial as the Congress would have just 30 votes- the exact number of first preference votes needed for a win if the MLA chooses to vote against party lines. And If the BJP manages to take away another Congress vote, then the second round of voting will have to take place in the Congress.

Meanwhile, former Haryana Transport Minister and BJP candidate Krishan Panwar is expected to bag a smooth win for the one remaining seat.

Uttar Pradesh

Considering their strength in the State Assembly, UP’s ruling BJP-led NDA was expected to get eight members elected to the Upper House. It has a strength of 273 MLAs in the State Legislative Assembly, while the SP-RLD-Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party alliance was hoping for the victory of three candidates with a total of 125 MLAs in the State.

The results were in line with projections as eight BJP candidates were elected unopposed to the Upper House- former MLA Radha Mohan Das Aggarwal, who had left his Gorakhpur Urban constituency for Yogi Adityanath to contest in the recent Assembly polls; BJP’s OBC Morcha national president K Laxman; Shahjanpur Dalit leader Mithilesh Kumar; former State unit chief Laxmikant Vajpayee, sitting Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Singh Nagar, UP Backward Classes Finance Commission chairman Baburam Nishad, former state head of the women wing Darshana Singh, and former party MLA Sangeeta Yadav.

Similarly, three candidates won based on SP’s legislative strength- former Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who filed his nomination as an Independent backed by the SP, Jayant Chaudhary from the RLD, and Javed Ali Khan from the SP. 

Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh

As per the Assembly strength of the Ruling DMK-Congress alliance in Tamil Nadu, it was expected to secure four of the six seats going for the elections. The DMK had allotted one of the four seats to its ally Congress.

Former Union Finance Minister and Congress leader Mr. Chidambaram, and the DMK’s R. Girirajan, S. Kalyanasundaram and K.R.N. Rajeshkumar, were elected unopposed while the AIADMK’s candidates, former T.N. Minister C. V. Shanmugam and R. Dharmar bagged the remaining two seats.

In Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress had enough lawmakers to win one seat, sitting member Vivek Tankha was elected unopposed while BJP candidates- the party’s State General Secretary Kavita Patidar and Jabalpur Municipal Councillor Sumitra Valmiki, won the other two seats.


In Punjab, noted environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal and entrepreneur-social activist Vikramjit Singh Sahney were elected unopposed as Aam Admi Party candidates.

Other states

Regional parties prevailed in Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD secured all three seats in Odisha. K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s TRS won two seats that went to the polls in Telangana, while the YSRCP secured four seats in Andhra Pradesh. In Uttarakhand, BJP’s Kalpana Saini was elected unopposed as the Congress didn’t field a candidate

In Jharkhand, where Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Congress were locked in a battle over who will field a candidate, had sent two candidates. Mahua Maji from the JMM and Aditya Sahu of the BJP were elected.

Bihar saw the BJP and the RJD winning two berths each while the remaining one seat went to Janata Dal (United). RJD patriarch Lalu Prasad’s daughter, Misa Bharti, was one of the RJD members who returned to the Rajya Sabha.

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