The new year will see a major rejig in numbers in Rajya Sabha following biennial polls and fresh Presidential nominations. The BJP is set to take its tally to at least 67, emerging as the single-largest party in a House of 245. And the ruling NDA will have 98 seats.
The Opposition Congress, which is currently evenly placed with the BJP at 57, may slide to 48 by July. The aggregate of the Congress and its allies will reduce from 72 to 63.
The ruling party gains will come from the territories it conquered recently or earlier: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.
For the Congress, on the decline for the last three years, the tally would have dipped even more had it not been for its recent gains in the Gujarat assembly elections and its strength in Karnataka.
As for BJP allies, the TDP will remain where it is, the Andhra gain neutralised in Telangana. The JD (U) will lose one more seat and settle down at six.
From the Opposition side, the RJD will add two seats to its current strength of three. The TRS will also go up to five from two. After the Congress, it is the SP which will take the biggest hit — loss of five seats.
These are the projections based only on the expected outcome of the by-elections and biennial polls due in several states for Rajya Sabha in 2018. The BJP can even cross 70, just in case a future Presidential nominee chooses to accept the ruling party whip, within six months of nomination.
There will be four vacancies in the “Nominated” category — three in April and one in July. Of the total 12 nominated members, seven owe their membership to the Modi government and four of them, including Subramanian Swamy, have officially pledged allegiance to the BJP.
A fortnight from now, on January 16, the Congress will suffer a loss of three seats from Delhi. Three members of the party, including Karan Singh and Janardan Dwivedi, will complete their tenure and the AAP will make its debut in the Rajya Sabha.
The lone member from Sikkim, Hishey Lachungpa of the Sikkim Democratic Front, will also complete his term this month, but the SDF, which is a constituent of the NDA and the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), will retain its seat.
A by-election would be held in Uttar Pradesh, caused by the resignation of Manohar Parrikar (now Chief Minister of Goa) of the BJP. The ruling party, which is in a commanding position in the UP assembly, will win this seat again. The January-round will take the BJP score to 58 and the Congress figure down to 54. The change will make the BJP the single-largest party in Rajya Sabha.
Apart from UP, two other by-elections are also due – one from Bihar, in the wake of the disqualification of Sharad Yadav in the aftermath of the JD (U) split; and the second from Kerala, after the resignation of JD(U) member Veerendra Kumar due to ideological differences with party president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He had been elected with the support of the UDF.
There are four more vacancies, caused by the resignation of BSP chief Mayawati (UP), death of Congress member Palvai Govardhan Reddy (Telangana), disqualification of JD(U) member Ali Anwar Ansari (Bihar) and the resignation of Mukul Roy (West Bengal) after his defection from the Trinamool Congress to the BJP.
The major churning will be in April. Elections to 59 seats will be spread across 16 states. Uttar Pradesh will account for the biggest chunk of 10. The SP, which currently has 18 members, will lose five of its six seats up for polls — this means a win of one and a tally of 13. The Congress will lose its solitary seat from UP. The BSP, which was down one seat following Mayawati’s resignation, will drop one more and will be left with four seats.
The BJP is set to win eight UP seats, up seven from the previous one. The combined Opposition can grab the tenth seat by pooling its votes. The return of Mayawati from UP is, therefore, possible, but only if Akhilesh Yadav transfers the surplus SP votes to her and the Congress too comes along.
Bihar will be among the most interesting states to watch. A total of seven seats from the state are in contention – six because of biennial polls and one due to a by-election. The six seats are currently shared by the JD-U (four) and the BJP (two). Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has the numbers to get only two members elected and the BJP, with its depleted strength, only one, which implies a loss of two and one to them, respectively.
The RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav is capable of bagging two seats without difficulty. The sixth seat will be up for grabs. According to sources in JD(U), Nitish Kumar may try splitting the 27-member Congress to win it with the support of a breakaway faction and surplus votes of the BJP and smaller NDA partners.
As for the by-election on account of the disqualification of Sharad Yadav, the ruling alliance should face no difficulty in winning it. The BJP dilemma will be its choice of candidate. For, two ministers elected from Bihar – Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan – will complete their terms in April. The party will have to look for another state for Pradhan or persuade Nitish Kumar to help him get re-elected.