RJD MP Manoj Jha on Thursday submitted his nomination as the Opposition’s joint candidate for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson. He later wrote to his fellow parliamentarians, asking them to “stand up and be counted” in front of people of the country.
Jha’s candidature has clouds of the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections hanging over it — the BJP-led NDA has nominated JD(U)’s Harivansh, who was also the last person to hold the post.
In his letter, Jha said that political opposition is a “critical and moral force in the nation”.
“It is the collective wish of the opposition that this election may not be seen as a contest for power to legislate at the level of the Union government. It should also not be seen as a contest between two individuals. In view of the great parliamentary tradition, this election is about two different versions of our parliamentary democracy: one, which only sees it as a numbers game, and the other, which places importance on critique, discussion, and consensus building in the interest of our country and its people,” Jha wrote.
Jha told The Indian Express that his letter was meant for all non-BJP MPs, particularly of regional parties such as the BJD and TRS.
In his letter, Jha wrote, “Rajya Sabha is the House in which the state legislatures are represented. Therefore, the Upper House of the Parliament is also the forum for articulation of federal concerns at the Centre. I am requesting your support not simply to win an election but to make a strong statement in favour of an accountable system of governance. A system in which regional parties that have formed state governments do not have to depend on quid pro quo with the party in power at the Centre just to maintain a non-adversarial federal state-Union relationship.”
Jha said that the election for the post of deputy chairperson, scheduled for September 14 — the first day of business in the Covid-affected session of Parliament — is a chance for MPs to “stand up and be counted in front of the people of this country”.
“I hope you will see this as an opportunity to be recorded in the history of India as defenders of parliamentary democracy at a time when that was the most crucial need,” he wrote.
Sources said that thus far, it seems like the NDA has the requisite numbers in Rajya Sabha and are also likely to get support from neutral parties that have a considerable presence in the Upper House such as the BJD, TRS, and the YSRCP. Leaders said that while the Opposition is making efforts to get in touch with these parties, particularly with the BJD, an opposition win seems unlikely.