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RS bypoll for lone seat on June 19

Ranchi, May 28: The Election Commission has announced June 19 as the Rajya Sabha bypoll date for the single Jharkhand seat that fell vacant when industrialist K.D. Singh resigned from his Upper House membership in February 2014.

Alchemist Group chief Singh, who won the seat in 2010 as Jharkhand’s JMM nominee, joined Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamul Congress and went to Upper House of the Parliament from the neighbouring state.

Poll over on June 19, the term for this seat will last till July 7, 2016, which means the new incumbent will represent Jharkhand in the Upper House for almost two years.

According to Election Commission of India announcement on May 27, poll notification will be issued on June 2. The last date to file nominations will be June 9. Scrutiny will take place on June 10 while candidates may withdraw nominations by June 12.

Jharkhand has a quota of six Rajya Sabha MPs. While Singh’s seat is vacant, the five existing ones are Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu (Congress), Parimal Nathwani (Independent), Prem Chand Gupta (RJD), Sanjeev Kumar (JMM) and Dhiraj Prasad Sahu (Congress).

Joint UPA candidate Gupta was elected and Nathwani re-elected to Rajya Sabha earlier this year.

JMM has staked its claim on the seat earlier represented by JMM nominee Singh.

“The seat is our natural claim as Singh won it on a JMM ticket. Last time RJD’s Gupta was sent to Upper House. We will soon announce the party’s final decision,” JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said.

JMM promised Sabita Mahto, widow of former deputy chief minister and JMM leader Sudhir Mahto, a Rajya Sabha seat when Singh vacated it.

Bowing to UPA coalition compulsions, JMM reneged on its promise to favour UPA ally RJD’s candidate Gupta. Jamshedpur-based Sabita had gone to Ranchi for the Rajya Sabha poll in the middle of her departed husband’s rituals but returned home empty-handed. Later, chief minister Hemant Soren and JMM boss Shibu Soren visited Jamshedpur and tried to placate her with the promise of “something solid” in the near future.

As Sabita has not got the charge of any board or corporation, the party may think of fielding her this time for Rajya Sabha.

Back then, the BJP had advocated Sabita’s candidature.

But now, with a thumping majority in Lok Sabha polls, the lotus party would want to see their own representation in Rajya Sabha, especially as out of five existing Rajya Sabha MPs from Jharkhand, none is from the BJP.

“The party will meet and take a final decision,” said BJP state chief Ravindra Rai.

But Jharkhand Assembly numbers don’t favour BJP and its allies. While the ruling alliance enjoys support of 40 MLAs, Opposition’s strength is 39 in the House whose total strength has reduced to 79.

The House will further reduce to 78 once recently-elected MP (Singhbhum) Laxman Gilua of BJP resigns from MLA membership — at present, he is the Chakradharpur MLA — leaving 40 for ruling benches and 38 for Opposition.

This includes a nominated member who does not enjoy voting rights in case of Rajya Sabha polls, so effectively it makes 37 for Rajya Sabha poll purposes.