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Rajya Sabha Elections: How BJP Embarrassed INDIA Bloc In Himachal Pradesh And UP, What We Know Of Cross-Voting?

After six Congress MLAs cross-voted in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh, BJP leader and state's Leader of Opposition Jairam Thakur said CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu should resign and that he has lost the majority in the assembly.

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After six Congress MLAs cross-voted against the party line, there are indications that Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu may face a trust vote in the assembly.
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In an embarrassment to INDIA bloc just weeks before the Lok Sabha elections, the lawmakers of the coalition cross-voted in favour of rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in the Tuesday's Rajya Sabha elections.

While Himachal is ruled by Congress, UP is ruled by the BJP. As a consolation prize, one BJP lawmaker voted in favour of a Congress candidate in Karnataka.

Himachal Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said five-six Congress MLAs were taken by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Haryana Police personnel. They were reportedly housed in a guest house in Haryana's Panchkula.

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Here we explain what we know of the cross-voting and how it comes as a setback to the INDIA bloc.

BJP Stuns Opposition In Himachal, UP

Despite being in a clear majority in the Himachal Pradesh assembly, the Congress could not elect its candidate to the state's sole Rajya Sabha seat.

The BJP's Harsh Mahajan won the Rajya Sabha seat from Himachal after defeating Abhishek Manu Singhvi of Congress. Nine additional votes, six of whom were Congress MLAs cross-voting for the BJP, made Mahajan win the election, according to Himachal CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

Sukhu told the media, "Nine cross-votings took place, three of them were Independent MLAs but six others [of Congress] sold their honesty...and voted against him (Abhishek Singhvi)."

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In UP, which had 10 Rajya Sabha seats going to polls, the BJP won eight and Samajwadi Party (SP) won two. The expectations were that the BJP would win seven and the SP three, but the cross-voting in favour of the BJP has meant that it ended up with eights seats in its kitty.

In addition to seven SP MLAs who are understood to have cross-voted in favour of the BJP, one Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA is also understood to have cross-voted for the BJP, according to reports. The BSP is not part of the INDIA bloc but it is also not aligned with the BJP either.

"At least seven Samajwadi Party MLAs, namely Rakesh Pandey, Abhay Singh, Rakesh Pratap Singh, Manoj Pandey, Vinod Chaturvedi, Puja Pal, Ashutosh Maurya may have cross voted in favour of NDA, sources said. In addition to this, a BSP MLA may also have voted for the BJP," reported India Today.

A total of 56 Rajya Sabha seats had got vacant that were up for polls. On these seats, 41 members were elected unopposed, which included Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, BJP President JP Nadda, and Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. Fifteen seats went to polls on Tuesday: 10 in UP, four in Karnataka, and one in Himachal.

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Congress Scores Consolation Win In Karnataka

While the Congress party and the INDIA bloc at large were left red-faced in Himachal and UP, the party scored a consolation victory in Karnatak.

Of the four Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka, Congress won three against the expected two. While the BJP won the fourth seats, its coalition partner Janata Dal-Secular's (JD-S) lost, which is understood to be a result of cross-voting in the favour of Congress.

"Karnataka may have witnessed cross-voting by two MLAs. According to sources, BJP’s ST Somashekar and Independent MLA G Janardhana Reddy may have voted in the Congress candidate’s favour," reported India Today.

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Is Congress Govt In Himachal In Trouble?

The cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections in Himachal Pradesh has cast questions over the stability of the Congress government in the state, which is the party's only government in North India now after losing Rajasthan last year.

Currently, the Congress party has full majority in the Himachal assembly. In the 68-member assembly, the Congress party has 40 MLAs, the BJP 25, and there are three Independent MLAs, according to the assembly's website. The majority-mark is 35.

As things stand at the moment, even if six Congress MLAs who cross-voted in favour of the BJP have indeed jumped ship, the Congress would be left with 34 MLAs, one short of the majority-mark.

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While the BJP has not yet said it would bring a no-confidence motion against CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu's government in Himachal, it has indicated such a move may be in the offing. BJP leader and Himachal's Leader of Opposition Jairam Thakur has said that Sukhu has should resign. "The MLAs have left him just within a year," said Thakur.

Thakur further said Sukhu has lost the majority of his MLAs. In separate comments to the media, he said, "Budget will be presented tomorrow. We will discuss the Budget tomorrow and then we will see the situation there. But I can see that the Government has lost the majority."

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