RS polls: The winner takes it all

Subhasish Mitra (Wide Angle)

Cross-voting was in full public glare once again during the just-concluded Rajya Sabha elections.

Congress and Samajwadi Party MLAs voted for the BJP going by their "antaratma ki awaz (inner voice)”. This caused major setbacks to the SP in Uttar Pradesh and the Congress in Himachal Pradesh. In the process, the BJP gained -- bagging more seats than it should have got on the basis of its own strength in the electoral college.


Cross-voting in Rajya Sabha polls reflects the weakening of parties and erosion of political ethics. And, all this has happened as the Lok Sabha election draws closer.


At election’s end, the BJP has pushed its way to within touching distance of a majority in the Upper House, while Congress looks even more disheveled.


Political observers say that as the party that rules at the Centre and in many states, and one that is likely to remain a dominant pole in the polity for the foreseeable future, the BJP must pause and reflect on the ramifications of its winner-takes-all approach even if it means playing fast and loose with the rules of the game. Smash-and-grab politics may yield an immediate dividend but it has a high cost.


Just as the Congress took its eye off the ball in Himachal Pradesh, the SP appeared to have lost its connect with its own leaders in UP. There have been indications for some time now that while Akhilesh Yadav inherited the party from his father, he is a distant presence, displaying very little of Netaji’s mulayam (soft) touch and constant engagement with party colleagues.


There was high drama in Uttar Pradesh where amid concerns over cross-voting, SP chief whip Manoj Pandey quit while polling was underway. As many as eight SP MLAs also did not attend a meeting called by the Yadav on Monday. SP candidate and retired IAS officer Alok Ranjan lost to BJP's Sanjay Seth, an industrialist.


After all, the winner takes it all.


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