The Election Commission of India has announced bypolls for six vacant Rajya Sabha seats — one seat from Assam, one from West Bengal, two from Tamil Nadu, one from Madhya Pradesh and one from Maharashtra — on 4 October.
The Bengal seat fell vacant after Manas Bhuyan decided to contest the assembly election as was the case with the Assam seat where Biswajit Daimary went on to contest assembly polls and is currently the speaker of the Assam assembly. The seat for Maharashtra fell vacant after Rajiv Satav died of Covid-19 related complications. Former union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot was made Karnataka governor just before the last cabinet reshuffle and therefore his seat has also fallen vacant. Two seats from Tamil Nadu are vacant since AIADMK leaders KP Munusamy and R Vaithilingam resigned to contest assembly polls.
Congress turncoat Sushmita Dev, who joined TMC, is likely to contest for the vacant Rajya Sabha seat from West Bengal. Sources said this part of the deal when she decided to jump ship from Congress to Mamata Banerjee’s party. Dev has been a member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha from the Silchar seat in Assam but lost the elections in 2019.
The Assam seat will most definitely be contested by union minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was brought in to the centre after being the chief minister of Assam for five years, and in 2021 handed over the reins to Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The two seats in Tamil Nadu are unlikely to go to the Congress, as per the arrangement between the DMK and the Congress. Even if the DMK suggested that one of the seats be given to former leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha
Ghulam Nabi Azad, it is unlikely that certain leaders of the Congress high command, including Rahul Gandhi, would agree. Among the names that are doing the rounds is that of a data analyst and a close aide of Rahul Gandhi.
Rajiv Satav’s unfortunate death cut short a very illustrious career and it is pretty certain that one of the front-runners for this particular seat is Mukul Wasnik from the Congress.
The vacancies for all the seats are of varied timings. While the seat for Bengal is till 2023, the Tamil Nadu seat vacated is only till next year. The other Tamil Nadu seat is till 2026 as are the seats for Assam and Maharashtra. The seat from Madhya Pradesh vacated by Gehlot is till 2024