Opposition parties are likely to put up RJD’s national spokesperson and MP Manoj Jha as its candidate for the elections to the post of the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The Opposition parties, however, will continue their efforts to build consensus before taking a final decision on the candidate by Friday.
From NDA, JD(U) MP Harivansh filed nomination for the election Wednesday. It was the end of Harivansh’s previous term in the Upper House that led to the vacancy. The voting is to be held on September 14 and the BJP has issued a whip to its members to be present in Rajya Sabha that day.
Earlier, the Congress decided at a meeting of its parliamentary leadership to not let the election to the Deputy Chairman’s post go uncontested. Senior leaders then reached out across the Opposition spectrum to find a consensus candidate. According to sources, the name of DMK MP Tiruchi Siva was also discussed, but with the Bihar elections approaching, some Opposition members, including Samajwadi leaders, suggested that a leader from Bihar be fielded. Jha’s name was mooted, and the Congress got in touch with the RJD leadership that gave a green signal, said sources.
Jha was nominated to Rajya Sabha in April 2018. Earlier, he has been a professor in social work at Delhi University and has also headed the department.
Senior Opposition leaders admitted that the numbers do not seem to be in their favour at this point, but said efforts were being made to convince “neutral parties” such as the BJD, YSR Congress and TRS. With the BJP having 87 members in the Upper House, and the NDA more than a hundred, the government is confident that it will sail through in the 245-member House.
“The BJD is a party that we will try and reach out to. They have nine members. If they vote for the Opposition candidate, it can be a good fight. Otherwise, the government, despite our efforts, will succeed in ensuring another term for the JD(U) member,” an Opposition leader said.
Interestingly, LJP MP Ram Vilas Paswan was one of the proposers of the name of Harivansh for the post, even as his son Chirag Paswan and the LJP are locked in a war of words with the JD(U) in Bihar, with some party members also suggesting that LJP should contest the Bihar polls alone.