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Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman election: BJP claims it has numbers, Congress says fight still on

Crucial for the election are the votes of the nine members from BJD, which BJP leaders said would be cast for the NDA candidate.

Written by Liz Mathew , Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: August 9, 2018 7:16:53 am
Rajya Sabha Deputy chairman election: BJP claims it has numbers, Congress says fight still on Harivansh Narayan Singh of the JD(U) after filing nomination papers on August 8, 2018. (Express Photo/Renuka Puri)

Ahead of the election for the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha on Thursday, sources in the ruling BJP said on Wednesday that they were confident of a major political victory in a House where the party did not have the majority. Congress leaders, on the other hand, said the fight is still on.

While a top BJP leader said the NDA candidate, Harivansh Narayan Singh of the JD(U), is expected to get 129 votes in the Upper House, sources in the Congress said their candidate, senior party leader B K Hariprasad, has the support of 121 members. The House currently has 244 members and a candidate will need 123 votes to win. The BJP has 73 members of its own, while the Congress has a strength of 50 members.

Crucial for the election are the votes of the nine members from BJD, which BJP leaders said would be cast for the NDA candidate. Apart from the NDA’s 91 votes, Singh will also get votes of AIADMK (13 MPs), TRS (6) and INLD (1), sources said. BJP sources also said some MPs from the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the RJD are likely to be absent or abstain from the voting.

Express Explained | How Rajya Sabha elects Deputy Chairperson

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman election: BJP claims it has numbers, Congress says fight still on Opposition nominee B K Hariprasad at Parliament Wednesday. (Express Photo/Renuka Puri)

NDA leaders and those supporting Singh are scheduled to meet at 9.15 am in Parliamentary Library Building before the voting. “You will see a wider gap than expected in the tallies,” said a minister.

BJP leaders claimed that its decision to field a JD(U) candidate — contrary to initial indications of pitching SAD MP Naresh Gujral — was to get parties like the BJD to vote with the NDA. “With the BJD being the archrival of the BJP in Odisha, Naveen Patnaik would not have agreed to vote in favour of the candidate. Their socialist party origins have played there,” said a party leader. BJP president Amit Shah, BJP sources said, has spoken to Odisha Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.

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Although SAD leadership was upset with the BJP’s decision, Gujral said the three party MPs will vote for the NDA candidate. The BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, which had abstained from voting during the no-confidence motion against the government, has also announced its decision to back the NDA candidate.

Sources said the BJP’s top leaders have also spoken to the TRS and YSRCP leaders and sought their support.

While the BJP sources said DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s demise may keep the four party MPs in Rajya Sabha away from the voting, Congress sources said barring Kanimozhi, the other three DMK MPs are likely to come to vote.

Hariprasad, meanwhile, is confident of a win. “I am very confident of winning the election,” he said. Asked whether he was being made a scapegoat since the other parties did not want to contest fearing defeat, he said nobody fears an election. “Congress had given option to all smaller parties… when they said the major party with numbers should fight, my party decided to fight,” he said.

Congress leader Anand Sharma alleged that the government and the BJP is using every tactic to swing the election, but added that the Opposition was not fighting a lost battle. “The BJP, if it had the majority, should have fielded its own candidate. Even after fielding a candidate from the JD(U), they lack the majority and that is why they are desperate to reach out to others outside the fold of NDA,” Sharma said.

Congress sources said the Opposition wanted the election to be postponed to Friday as many leaders are in Chennai and had requested Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in this regard, but the latter did not agree.

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