Elections to 59 Rajya Sabha seats to be held on 23 March

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New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) on Friday announced elections to 58 Rajya Sabha seats due to retirement and another seat on a casual vacancy, to be held next month.

Both polling and counting of votes will take place on 23 March.

The move is significant as it will alter nearly one fourth of the Upper House and could possibly change the current House strengths of key political parties, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The term of office of 58 members of the Rajya Sabha elected from 16 States is due to expire on their retirement in April-May 2018,” a release by the EC said, announcing the schedule.

There is also a casual vacancy in Kerala owing to the resignation of M.P. Veerendra Kumar before the expiration of his term.

“Adequate measures for close monitoring of the election process by appointing observers shall be taken to ensure free and fair election,” the EC added.

BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is likely to be on a strong footing in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls as it is in power in three top states where seats are vacant, including 10 seats from Uttar Pradesh and six each from Bihar and Maharashtra.

Apart from this, five seats each go to polls in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal as well as 4 seats each in the BJP-ruled Gujarat and the Congress-ruled Karnataka.

Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan also have vacancies of three seats each.

Currently, as of Friday, the BJP is the largest party in Rajya Sabha with 58 seats, followed by Congress with 54 seats.

The issue of notification of the polls will take place on 5 March. The last date for filing nominations is 12 March, scrutiny will take place on 13 March and the last date of withdrawing nominations is 15 March, according to the EC.

“The Commission has directed that for the purpose of marking preference(s) on the ballot paper only integrated violet colour sketch pen(s) of pre-fixed specification, provided by the Returning Officer, shall be used. No other pen shall, under any circumstances, be used in the above said elections,” the release by the EC said.livemint