Congress’ Pradeep Tamta today defeated Independent candidate Anil Goel to win the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Uttarakhand and become the first Dalit from the hill state to make it to the Upper House of Parliament.
A total of 58 members of the state Assembly cast their votes out of which 32 went to Tamta and 26 to Goel, Vidhan Sabha Secretary Jagdish Chandra said.
BJP’s Bhimtal MLA Dan Singh Bhandari had resigned from the Assembly yesterday, bringing down the party’s tally in the House to 26, while all 32 members of the Congress-PDF combine cast their votes. Congress has 26 MLAs and PDF six.
Though the victory of Tamta, a prominent Dalit leader from Kumaun region, was a foregone conclusion with the numbers heavily stacked in favour of the ruling combine, initial opposition to his candidature from within the party’s state unit and the alliance had given rise to the possibility of last minute cross voting.
However, after the Congress high command intervened, Congress-PDF alliance put up a united face and threw their combined weight behind Tamta.
BJP tried to cash in on the sulk of a few leaders over Tamta’s candidature but failed. Chief Minister Harish Rawat said though BJP was not contesting officially, it had fielded Anil Goel and Geeta Thakur, two known party leaders indirectly as Independents. Thakur retired from contest at the eleventh hour leaving Goel in the ring to take on Tamta in a straight fight.
BJP’s hopes of the Independent backed by the party making a dent in the Congress-PDF combine came a cropper as the entire chunk of 32 votes of the alliance went to Tamta.
Tamta had represented the Almora seat in the 15th Lok Sabha.
The Congress’ victory in the Rajya Sabha is being seen in political circles here as another setback to the BJP which is still smarting from the jolt of Harish Rawat’s victory in the floor test on May 10 and reinstatement of his government.