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How elections to Rajya Sabha happen? What is the Process and its uniqueness.

Rajya Sabha elections witnessed a unique incident where multiple party members of Congress and Samajwadi Party were seen cross voting in favour of BJP candidates. (A reminder to all citizens to vote wisely in Lok sabha, Vidhan Sabha, council elections). Lets know of how the Rajya Sabha elections work.

What is Rajya Sabha ?

The Rajya Sabha comprises 245 members who represent various States and Union Territories, including Delhi and Puducherry. The chairman of Rajya Sabha is the Vice President of India. Among these members, 12 are appointed directly by the President from diverse fields such as art, literature, sports, and science. The allocation of Rajya Sabha seats to each state is based on their population. For instance, Uttar Pradesh has a quota of 31 seats, while Goa has only one seat. Unlike Lok Sabha elections, where members are elected directly, Rajya Sabha members are chosen by Members of the state legislative assemblies through an indirect election system called proportional representation using a single transferable vote (STV). In this system, the voting power of each MLA is determined by the population of their respective constituencies.

The election Process.

In order to win an election, a candidate must obtain a specific number of votes called quotas. The quota is calculated by dividing the total valid votes by the number of seats available plus one. In regions with multiple seats, the initial quota is determined by multiplying the number of MLAs by 100, as each MLA's vote is valued at 100.

When filling out the ballot paper with candidates from different parties, MLAs rank their preferences for each candidate — with 1 being the top preference (the first preferential vote), 2 for the next, and so on. If a candidate receives enough first preferential votes to meet or exceed the quota, they are declared as winners.

If a winning candidate has surplus votes, those votes are transferred to their second choice (marked as number 2). If multiple candidates have surpluses, the largest surplus is transferred first. To avoid wasting votes, if the required number of candidates are not elected after surplus transfers, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their unexhausted ballot papers are redistributed among the remaining candidates.

An "exhausted paper" refers to a ballot paper with no further preferences recorded for continuing candidates. This process of surplus vote transfers and eliminations continues until enough candidates reach the quota to fill all available seats.

Uniqueness of Rajya Sabha elections.

There are specific regulations that apply to the Rajya Sabha elections. For example, only the violet sketch pen provided by the returning officer is allowed for marking the ballot. In an interesting incident from 2016, RK Anand, a candidate supported by the Congress, faced defeat in the Haryana Rajya Sabha polls due to 14 Congress votes being invalidated for using an incorrect color pen.

The system of proportional representation through the single transferable vote method is also used in the election of the President of India, the Vice-President, and members of state legislative councils. This system is employed in city elections in the US, Ireland, and Australia, as well as in certain elections in Nepal, Pakistan, and New Zealand.

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