The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) became the largest party in the Rajya Sabha Thursday when Sampatiya Uikey, a woman tribal leader from Madhya Pradesh, was elected unopposed. Uikey’s election was necessitated by the death of Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave in May. This is the first time that the BJP has more MPs than the Congress in the 245-seat Upper House although they still do not have a majority. As of Friday, the BJP has 58 MPs, followed by the Congress (57), Samajwadi Party (18), AIADMK (13), Trinamoool Congress (12) and JD(U) (10). The Left and other smaller parties have single-digit MPs.
Next week, decisive elections will be held for six RS seats in West Bengal and three in Gujarat. While the ruling Trinamool Congress, which has a massive majority in the state Assembly, can win five out of six seats, the Congress can win the remaining seat. In Gujarat, the BJP will be able to get party president Amit Shah and Textiles Minister Smriti Irani elected on two seats (vacated by its own members), while the third seat is up for grabs. The Congress has nominated Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, for the third seat. At the same time, the BJP has put forward Balwantsinh Rajput, a former Congress MLA, as its candidate for the third seat.
Unlike the Lok Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA has a brute majority, in the Rajya Sabha, the party has struggled to push through reforms mainly due to its lack of majority and has had to depend on non-aligned regional parties like the AIADMK and BJD. Next year as Uttar Pradesh, the state which the BJP won with a landslide majority in March, sends its lawmakers, the BJP would be able to easily nominate at least eight MPs and thus boost its numbers in the Upper House.