The BJP has for the first time in its history become the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha, overtaking the Congress by one seat. The ruling party, which has clear majority in the Lok Sabha, is expected to win more seats early next year, but will still not be in majority in the 245-member Upper House. The BJP’s strength has gone up to 58, overtaking the Congress’s 57 with the election of Sampathiya Uikey from Madhya Pradesh. Uikey, a tribal leader, took oath as Rajya Sabha member on Thursday.
If the BJP’s third candidate, Balwantsinh Rajput, a former Congressman who joined the BJP last month, manages to win the August 8 Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, defeating Congress veteran Ahmed Patel, the party’s tally will go up further. The BJP’s strength in the Rajya Sabha remained below 50 during the NDA regime under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The party’s position is expected to improve in the coming years as the BJP and its allies are in power in 18 of the 29 states. Although the party is not likely to get majority on its own in the current term of the Narendra Modi government, the government will have a smoother run in the Upper House with the support of allies and friendly parties.
The recent developments in Bihar, where Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) returned to NDA, also improved its position in the Rajya Sabha.
Fifty-seven seats in the Rajya Sabha will fall vacant in April 2018. Of the 10 seats falling vacant from Uttar Pradesh, the BJP — which won a landslide victory in the recent election — is expected to get as many as nine, a gain of eight seats. The party’s prospects would be bright in states like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan where seats will be vacated.
In the elections to nine seats on August 8, six are in West Bengal and three in Gujarat. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is set to get five MPs elected while the Congress is expected to win one seat.