Millennium Post

EC likely to announce RS poll schedule by next week

New Delhi: The Election Commission has set the ball rolling for the 55 Rajya Sabha seats that will fall vacant by April end. The Commission is likely to announce the schedule next week.

Government sources say the notification for the elections will be announced on March 6. Polling is likely to be held on March 26 and counting is expected to begin around 5 pm the same day.

As per the schedule drawn up so far, the last date for filing of nominations is March 13, scrutiny is slated to be held on March 16 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is March 18. While this is a tentative schedule drawn up, the dates could be tweaked, sources said. Elections are in fact expected throughout 2020, as there are five vacancies arising in June and another 11 in November.

There was buzz in the Congress circles that Congress UP general secretary Priyanka Gandhi could come into the upper House from Chattisgarh. Far from calling this is a political move, Gandhi's opponents say her Rajya Sabha entry will enable her to retain her Lodi Estate government bungalow provided to her as a SPG protectee. Gandhi is now a Z plus central protectee.

But the BJP's hope of getting a majority is likely to fail as it is going to be a advantage to regional parties and the Congress. As many as 18 vacancies this year are from the BJP and 17 from the Congress. In all

the BJP has 82 MPs and the Congress has 46 in the Rajya Sabha.

Top Congress leaders Motilal Vora, Madhusudan Mistry, Kumari Selja, Digvijaya Singh, B K Hariprasad and MV Rajeev Gowda are among those whose tenures are ending in April and June. Union ministers Hardip Puri and Ramdas Athwale are likely to be repeated. Sharad pawar is likely to be renominated from the NCP quota in Maharashtra. With a change in their allegiance, the NCP, Shiv Sena are likely to put up a joint candidate for the one seat that will be in contention from Maharashtra.

The BJP is likely to get three, the NCP, Shiv Sena and the Congress 1 each.

As per the Rajya Sabha, the list of retirements this year include seven vacancies from Maharashtra, six from

Tamil Nadu, five each from Bihar and West Bengal, four each from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Odisha, two each from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and one each from Assam, Manipur, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

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