Andhra Pradesh is set to elect four members to the Rajya Sabha on Friday, with the ruling YSRCP poised to win all four seats given its formidable strength in the State Assembly.
This is the first time that an election is being conducted for the Rajya Sabha seats from the state following the bifurcation of the state in 2014. The biennial election, originally scheduled for March 26, was rescheduled to June 19 due to the lockdown.
Four out of 11 seats in the Upper House of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh fell vacant on April 9 as sitting members retired at the end of the six-year term.
It would have normally been a unanimous affair but a formal election became inevitable since of the five candidates, four are from the ruling YSR Congress and one of the opposition Telugu Desam party. With a strength of 151 in the 175-member Assembly and the support of four 'rebel' legislators of TDP and Jana Sena, the YSRCP is comfortably placed to win all four.
A minimum of 36 votes are required for a candidate to win the Rajya Sabha seat from Andhra. The TDP, with just 20 out of 23 MLAs remaining on its side, does not stand a chance.
After Friday's polling, the YSRCP's strength in Rajya Sabha will rise to six from two at present.
From the YSRCP, Deputy Chief Minister Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose, Minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana Rao, realtor A Ayodhya Rami Reddy and Reliance Industries Senior Group President Parimal Nathwani are in the fray now. The TDP fielded its politburo member Varla Ramaiah.
On Thursday, Parimal Nathwani met with Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy at his camp office in Amaravati and thanked the YSRCP President for the nomination. Jagan had met Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani at the formerâ€™s residence in February, and sources had said that he called on the CM to get Nathwani re-elected as a Rajya Sabha MP, possibly from Andhra.
Nathwani had been an independent MP from Jharkhand for two consecutive terms before this.
As the YSRCP government decided to abolish the state Legislative Council, the party fielded two MLCs â€” Bose and Ramana, as they have been with Jagan since the inception of the party, according to sources. Both belong to the backward classes.
Ramana was arrested along with Jagan in 2012 in the 'quid pro quo' case and later released on bail. Bose and Ramana may lose their Cabinet berths if the Council is abolished, as the proposal is pending with the Centre.
Polling will be conducted from 9 am to 4 pm on Friday and counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm.
With a majority of them being first-timers, the YSRCP conducted a mock poll for its MLAs on Thursday to familiarise them with the procedure involved in the polling.