A keen contest between the NDA and the Opposition for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman appears on the cards with JD(U) MP Harivansh emerging as the candidate of the ruling alliance for the August 9 election. The Opposition has often prevailed over the government in the numbers game in the House but the BJP is hopeful that it can get the better of its rivals with the support of regional parties such as the AIADMK, BJD, TRS and YSR Congress — all of whom have lent support to it now and then.
Leaders of opposition parties such as the Congress, TMC, SP, BSP and the Left bloc held deliberations to choose their nominee and indicated it clear that they will force a contest for the post. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu announced in the House that the election will be held at 11 AM on August 9. He also suggested that the deputy chairman should be elected by consensus. The nomination papers will have to be filed before noon on August 8.
The post of the deputy chairman has been lying vacant since June this year following the retirement of P J Kurien, who was elected to the Upper House of Parliament on a Congress ticket from Kerala. While the BJP-led NDA did not make any formal announcement, sources said Harivansh, a first-time parliamentarian, is likely to be their choice for the post.
The BJP’s decision to opt for a member of its ally as its choice is driven by its desire to be more accommodative to its partners, many of whom have often expressed their reservations at the saffron party’s treatment of them since the government was formed in 2014. The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 244 and support of 123 members would be needed for a win in the full House.
Besides the nominated and independent members affiliated to it, the BJP is banking on the support of 13, nine, six and two members of the AIADMK, BJD, TRS, YSR Congress respectively, its floor managers said. If all four parties support the NDA candidate, then the numbers add up to 126.
However, even if parties like BJD or TRS abstain from voting, then things will become more precarious for the ruling alliance. Both these parties had abstained during a vote on the motion of no-confidence against the government in Lok Sabha, while the AIADMK had voted with the treasury benches.
The BJP is the largest party in the House with 73 members, followed by the Congress with 50 members. The BJP’s allies JD(U), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have six, three and three members respectively. The BJP also expects to get the support of four of the six Independent members and three of the four nominated members.