New Delhi: With differences in BJP over
nomination of eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani for a Rajya Sabha
seat from Rajasthan, Congress is backing former Union Minister
Santosh Bagrodia as an independent candidate there.
Party sources said Congress is tacitly backing Bagrodia,
an industrialist, to drive a wedge in the BJP with the
calculation that only a few votes are required to ensure his
In a last-minute development Bagrodia, till now Congress
member of Rajya Sabha, filed his papers as an Independent on
the last day of filing nominations after Congress did not
re-nominate him and gave ticket to Union Minister Anand
Sharma, whose re-entry into the Upper House would have been
difficult from Himachal Pradesh where BJP is in power.
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the ruling Congress
has 102 members, BJP (79), CPI-M (3), JD-U(1), Loktantrik
Samajwadi Party (1) and SP (1). There are 13 Independents.
Congress will have a surplus of 34 votes in Rajasthan
including 15 of independents and others, which are supporting
its government there. Since the support of 41 members are
required to win a seat, Bagrodia will have to manage just
seven more votes.
The party, however, remained tight lipped about the
candidature of its leader Kanhaiyalal Gidwani in Maharashtra,
who filed his nomination as an Independent candidate.
"The situation in Maharastra and Rajasthan are different.
There is no Jethmalani in Maharashtra on which
there can be divisions in the opposition," a senior party
leader said on the condition of anonymity. He was asked
whether the party is also backing Gidwani there, who today
claimed he enjoyed support of 15 independents in the Assembly.
"I had lunch with the 15 independents and all of them
unanimously assured me their support," Gidwani, whose
candidature has necessitated the poll, told PTI in Mumbai.
The buzz in the state Congress circle is that Gidwani`s
candidature is backed by Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and
state revenue minister Narayan Rane.
There are seven candidates in fray for six Rajya Sabha
seats in Maharashtra. Gidwani`s entry means each needs 42
first-preference votes to be sure of a win.
In the 288-member House, Congress has 82 legislators, NCP
has 62, BJP 46 and the Shiv Sena 45. There are 53 MLAs
belonging to smaller parties and Independents.
"There are 53 `free` legislators and I won`t have any
problem getting the required votes," a confident Gidwani said.