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Jethmalani, Anand, Mallya make it to RS
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
Ram Jethmalani, who contested election against former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004, won a vigorously contested election to the Rajya Sabha on a BJP ticket from Rajasthan today. So did Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma as a Congress candidate.

These are part of the biennial elections to the Upper House of Parliament held in Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Orissa, which saw some political heavyweights entering the Council of States.

Anand Sharma might have lost his ministry if he had not got elected from Rajasthan now. Similarly, LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan, who lost the 2009 General Elections, might have had to surrender his 12, Janpath bungalow next to Sonia Gandhiís if he were not elected as a joint candidate of his party and recent comrade RJD chief Lalu Prasad.

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya returned to the Rajya Sabha by making the ruling BJP and its arch rival the JD-S join hands.

Other elected bigwigs included former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu, also from Karnataka, and BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Bihar.

Karnataka also returned to the Rajya Sabha senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes. The second BJP candidate elected from Karnataka is Ayanur Manjunath.

But Ram Jethamalaniís election became the most prestigious and controversial. That is because Ram was a rank outsider for Rajasthan and the BJP, since he had left the party long ago. Since he was defending Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his associates in the Gujarat riot cases, Modi got him rewarded like this and LK Advani pleaded on his behalf.

Rajasthan leaders and MLAs were equally piqued. Former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raj openly declared her preference for Hema Malini. And the 79 reluctant BJP MLAs had to be herded away to a resort near Jaipur. They were ferried directly from there to the state assembly to cast their votes and only then allowed to go home. At the end of the day, political observers said it was the decision of three CPM MLAs in the Rajastahn Assembly to abstain in spite of an appeal by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to defeat communal forces, which ensured Modiís nominee Jethmalaniís victory.

Similarly, in Bihar a friend turned foe of the RJD chief, one-time minister Dadan Pahelwan brought a mall owner of Bangalore, BG Uday, to contest as an Independent. Finally, Uday got only two votes, but not before creating a flurry in the established parties. Dadan Pahelwan managed the signature of a few Congress MLAs on Udayís nomination papers. But Delhi woke up early and sent a missive to the newly appointed Bihar PCC president Mahbood Ali Kaisar. Thereafter, Congress, CPM and CPI(ML) MLAs abstained from voting ensuring election of all official candidates, including RJD leader Ram Kirpal Yadav, two of JD-U including a former secretary of Nitish Kumar, RCP Singh.

In Jharkhand, KD Singh, a businessman from Chandigarh, upset all main political parties. He got elected, defeating all recognised party candidates, including BJPís Ajay Maroo. Singh is reported to have stake in Alchemist Hospital and Financial World newspaper in Chandigarh.

Of the 56 vacancies, 32 candidates, including Union Minister Ambika Soni, Gandhi family loyalist Satish Sharma, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, senior journalist Chandan Mitra and Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh were earlier elected unopposed.

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