Subramanian Swamy, one of the six people nominated by the President to the Upper House who were sworn in on Tuesday, has informed the Rajya Sabha Secretariat that he has decided to accept the BJP whip.
“I am a member of the BJP and I have already given it in writing (to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to treat me as a member of BJP),” Swamy told The Indian Express.
Asked whether he has any plan to join the BJP, Narendra Jadhav, another member, said, “Not at all…I don’t belong to any party.” Elaborating, he said: “There are 12 eminent persons (in the nominated category), drawn from fields such as films, performing arts, science, academics, literature and social service. One of these slots has been given to me.”
In Rajya Sabha, Jadhav said, “you have a choice as a nominated member to sit with members of a party, like Swamy has done, or in the block of independent members nominated by the President. I will sit with independent members.” Regarding his future functioning, Jadhav said most nominated MPs such as Rekha and Sachin Tendulkar rarely attend sessions, but he will take his “new job very seriously”. He said, “I will constructively engage with the government without being a member of the ruling party. There is no question of my coming under any whip.”
Journalist Swapan Dasgupta said: “I am a nominee of the President…..I am not attached to any party.” Asked if he would nevertheless vote with BJP members in the Upper House, Dasgupta said, “It is hypothetical to say anything on the manner in which I would vote in future.” Regarding the option of choosing to accept the whip of a party within the initial six months, Dasgupta said, “Well, I am not going to exercise this option.”
Navjot Singh Sidhu, former BJP member of Lok Sabha from Amritsar and the fourth presidential nominee, is expected to follow Swamy to the BJP corner. Sidhu is yet to take oath as a member. The others who took oath are Suresh Gopi and boxer Mary Kom.
A nominated member is allowed six months to decide whether to join a political party.
Of the people whom the new pack has replaced, only Mani Shankar Aiyar and Bhalchand Mungekar had become members of the Congress group. The rest — Ashok Ganguly, H K Dua, Javed Akhtar, Mrinal Miri, B Jayashree, K T S Tulsi and Anu Agha — remained independent. But official records aside, conventional logic is that most people nominated by a government tend to back it, at least on crucial occasions. In that sense, it is a notional gain of six for the NDA, which is hard up for numbers in the Upper House.
In Upper House
NDA members: BJP (48), Telugu Desam (6), Shiv Sena (3), Akali Dal (3), PDP (2), Bodoland People’s Front, Nagaland People’s Front, RPI-A (1 each).
Members of UPA and friendly parties: Congress (65), Janata Dal-U (13), CPM (8), NCP (6), DMK (4), CPI, IUML, JMM, Kerala Congress-Mani, RJD (1 each).
In non-Congress block: Samajwadi Party (15), AIADMK (12), Trinamool Congress (12), BSP (10),
BJD (7), Independents and others (7), INLD, Janata Dal-S, TRS, SDF (1 each).
Note: * 2 vacancies at present 10 members nominated by the President.