What Led To Maken’s Sudden Loss? Insiders Pin Blame On Bishnoi

| Updated: 11 June, 2022 12:29 pm IST
Ajay Maken and Kuldeep Bishnoi

NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: In a dramatic turn of events, full of twists and turns, Congress candidate Ajay Maken saw his fortunes take a 360-degree turn in the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana.

While Maken lost the elections, hours after Congress supporters congratulated him on social media for his win, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Krishan Panwar and BJP-Jananayak Janata Party (JJP) backed independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma clinched the battle of the ballot.

Congress general secretary KC Venugopal on Friday night took to Twitter congratulating Maken for winning the Rajya Sabha seat. However, later he deleted his tweet as Maken lost after recounting of votes, which went on till Saturday early morning.

However, the result of the RS election in Haryana brought the focus on the fractured Congress party – whose deliberations at the Nav Chintan Shivir seem to have failed to taper its age-old faultlines.

ALSO READ: Haryana Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi Expelled For Cross-Voting In RS Poll

The limelight is on Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of late three-time chief minister Bhajan Lal. Bishnoi was apparently unhappy after being overlooked for the state president post following rejig the Party’s state unit.

It is speculated that Bishnoi chose the crucial RS elections to show his displeasure to the party by being instrumental in the defeat of Maken on Friday.

The result also put former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a fix. Hooda was instrumental in appointing his close aide Udai Bhan as the state unit chief.

While several Congress senior leaders of the party tried to pacify Bishnoi but that seemed to have little effect on him. Bishnoi stayed away from all the Congress events including the party’s three-day Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan’s Udaipur last month. Bishnoi also announced that he and his supporters would not participate in any Congress event till Rahul Gandhi met him.

Even when Congress had flown its MLAs to Raipur, fearing cross-voting and horse-trading, Bishnoi chose not to go in a clear sign of defiance.

ALSO READ: Congress Satyagrah On Day Of Rahul Gandhi’s Questioning

After the counting, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, while one Congress vote was rejected, Bishnoi voted as per his inner conscience and did not vote for Congress candidate Maken.

“All the Congress MLAs cast their votes by showing it to their election agent. I am sure Bishnoi also must have done that. Yet, it is welcome that he supported our candidate and voted to listen to his inner conscience,” Khattar said.

“He has shown faith in the principles and policies of the BJP. He did not even think about what his party is going to do with him after this, but he cast his vote after listening to his heart and mind. We welcome him,” the Haryana CM said while keeping the rumour mills guessing about what to follow next.

Khattar further said that out of the total 90 MLAs, one Independent MLA abstained, while one Congress vote was rejected.

“That left 88 votes. According to the rule, any two who could make it above the mark of one-third of 88 would have won. Congress got 29, while Kartikeya Sharma got 29.65 votes. He got 23 and Krishan Panwar’s 6.65 votes were transferred to Kartikeya Sharma making him victorious,” Khattar said.

As voting ended for two Rajya Sabha seats in Haryana on Friday, the ruling BJP sought the cancellation of votes cast by Congress MLA Kiran Choudhary and BB Batra. BJP alleged that they showed their preference of votes to several people other than the party agent, in violation of secrecy. A BJP delegation also met the Election Commission to declare polls in Haryana as null and void.

Maken also wrote to the poll panel seeking to reject the demands of the ruling party.

ALSO READ: Reject BJP’s Demands To Declare Haryana RS Poll Null & Void: Congress To EC

Incidentally, in the 2017 Rajya Sabha polls, Congress leader Ahmed Patel had clinched a nail baiter in Gujarat. Patel needed 44 votes to win and he got 44 in a win aided by the Election Commission holding the votes of two Congress rebels invalid for showing their ballot papers to the BJP’s election agent.

The choice of fielding Maken from Haryana has surprised many. Haryana Congress leader and party national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala was fielded from Rajasthan instead of his own state, owing to his rivalry with Hooda.

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