After three back-to-back meetings, the Opposition on Tuesday could not come up with a candidate to contest the elections for the post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman. And, in a last minute twist, the TDP evinced interest in fielding the Opposition candidate.
The Congress has decided to field its member, B K Hariprasad, if there is no consensus on the TDP’s proposal. A final call will be taken on Wednesday morning, hours before the deadline for filing of nomination paper gets over.
The day began with BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra suggesting NCP MP Vandana Chavan’s name at the meeting of Opposition leaders. The others agreed, and a decision was taken to reach out to the BJD, Shiv Sena and TRS too. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad were authorised to talk to these parties.
But, sources said, BJD chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik conveyed to Pawar that he had already promised to support JD(U)’s Harivansh, who has the backing of the ruling NDA. The NCP conveyed this to Opposition leaders and said it was not interested in fielding Chavan.
Top leaders, including SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, CPI’s D Raja, TMC’s Derek O’Brien and RJD’s Misa Bharti, met again in Azad’s chamber to discuss the matter. Tiruchi Siva’s candidature could not be taken forward as top DMK leaders, including M K Stalin and Kanimozhi, were with M Karunanidhi at the hospital through the day.
When the leaders met for the third time at 6 pm, the parties left it to the Congress to pick the candidate. The government, meanwhile, reached out to the Opposition, seeking consensus on Harivansh.
With the BJD deciding to back the NDA and the TRS remaining noncommittal, a joint Opposition candidate seems unlikely to win the race. The DMK’s four members are also unlikely to turn up to vote on August 9.
The Congress, which has 50 seats in the upper house, was earlier of the view that its candidate may face resistance from parties like the TDP and YSRCP.
The idea behind fielding Chavan, who is from Maharashtra, was that she could get the support of the Shiv Sena. Besides, Pawar has a good equation with Patnaik. But Nitish Kumar had already reached out to Patnaik and enlisted his party’s support, upsetting the Opposition’s plan.