NDA, regional parties get major Rajya Sabha boost From Wednesday, pay less for excess flight baggage FLY EASY FROM JUNE 15
POLL RESULTS BJP bags 12 seats; Congress gets 6, but is still biggest in House
The Congress won six seats in the Rajya Sabha polls on Saturday but it was the BJP-led alliance that made significant gains with 12 seats in the biennial elections marked by cross-voting and a dramatic rejection of votes for a “wrong pen”.
The other major gainer in the elections held for 27 seats across seven states include the Samajwadi Party which won seven seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Bahujan Samaj Party won two.
Out of the 58 seats that fell vacant in the Upper House this summer, the NDA has now won 23, improving upon the 18 seats it held earlier. The Congress, which held 15 of these seats, now has nine. Thirty one candidates won unopposed last week.
Overall, the NDA now has 72 seats in the Rajya Sabha, still far off from the halfway mark of 123 that would allow the ruling alliance to push through key legislations stuck in the Upper House.
Although the backing of some its potential supporters such as AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) can push up the NDA’s strength to 106, the Congress still remains an influential opposition with 58 seats.
The remaining seats belong to regional parties like the BSP, SP and YSR Congress, who are likely to play key roles in the passage of legislations like the Goods and Services Tax bill.
The BJP’s gains on Saturday came from Rajasthan (4), Jharkhand (2) and Madhya Pradesh (2) but the most stunning victory came in Haryana where the party-backed independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra was declared the winner after the votes of 14 Congress MLAs were rejected on the ground that they used the wrong pen to mark their voting slips.
The 14 MLAs are said to have deliberately scuttled the prospects of the INLD and Congress backed-independent candidate RK Anand. The 14 MLAs owing allegiance to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda were said to be unhappy with the party’s backing of Anand.
“Wherever BJP is there, cross voting and horse trading happens. Still we won crucial seats, said Ghulam Nabi Azad.
In Jharkhand too, the Congress failed to secure the victory for JMM candidate Basant Soren, son of party supremo Shibu Soren, where the ruling BJP nominee Mahesh Poddar won by a whisker. Just before the voting took place, a JMM legislator was arrested in a case dating back to 2013. A Congress MLA, also facing arrest, skipped the elections.
The other BJP winner was Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. The Congress, on the other hand, won handsomely in Karnataka where its candidates Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and K C Ramamurthy won due to cross-voting by JD-S MLAs.
Excess baggage will now be easier on the flyer’s pocket with the government reducing charges to R100 for every kilo above the 15kg free baggage allowance till a 20kg limit. The new charges kick in on June 15.
At present, all domestic carriers, except Air India, charge R300 per kg of extra baggage. The national carrier allows 25kg of free checked-in luggage on most of its flights.
This is a first step towards wide-ranging changes to civil aviation rules relating to refunds, compensation, delays and passenger facilities proposed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) — first reported by HT on June 2.
“A final view on these will be taken once we receive comments from stakeholders in the next 15 days,” DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy said Saturday.