Millennium Post

NDA in Rajya Sabha

It seems that the BJP has hit two birds with one stone, after tying up with Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) in Bihar! Not only have their MLAs have got ministerial berths in the state government, but it has also ensured parity of BJP-led NDA in the 245-member Upper House with a guarantee of JD(U)'s nine MP's votes with the government. And, with a majority, it would be easier for the government to push through the Bills as per the party's wish. It may be noted that ever since BJP-led NDA came to power at the Centre in 2014, it has been struggling to increase its numbers in the Rajya Sabha. As the MPs retire in batches in this permanent chamber, the rise in numbers at a snail's speed had made things hard for the government in pushing through key legislations. Interestingly, the political change in Bihar has made things easier for the ruling coalition. Otherwise, it would not have been able to achieve parity till mid-2018, when the number of government MPs would be more than those of the Opposition. While Nitish will now be able to run Bihar government more comfortably, JD(U), back with NDA, will also swell the alliance' total tally in the Rajya Sabha - a very important development for the BJP-led alliance. Currently, the JDU has 10 seats in the Rajya Sabha, which takes the combined tally of NDA in the Upper House to 84. Though Congress (57) and the BJP (57) have equal numbers of seats in the Rajya Sabha, when alliance numbers are tallied, NDA with 85 (besides three nominated seats) is now well ahead of the UPA's tally of 64 (excluding five nominated) assuming all those appointed under the UPA regime vote for it.

If we look at the regional parties, the number of seats of AIADMK, BJD, TRS, and YSR Congress Party are 13, 8, 3, and 1 respectively. Indeed, at the end of the elections, the BJP and the Congress will both have 57 seats each in the Upper House. The remaining six seats that will be contested in August are from West Bengal: the Trinamool Congress, that currently holds four of those seats will go up to five, at the expense of the CPI (M), and Congress will retain the sixth. In Gujarat, BJP will retain the two seats it holds — Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani has been renominated, and BJP president Amit Shah will be making his entry through the second seat. But now the BJP has fielded a third person, Balwantsinh Rajput, a Congress MLA who joined the BJP on Thursday, to take on Ahmed Patel, his former mentor, and political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is seeking re-election to the seat he currently holds. Patel needs 44 votes to win, but Congress numbers have been shrinking, with seven party MLAs crossing over to the BJP since Thursday. If this continues, Patel's seat may be at risk. So the BJP will add one seat — and if lucky, two seats — to its RS tally next month. If the JD (U) MPs, too, decide to back it, it can add another nine seats to its side of the House. Add to that Amit Shah, and the BJP will stand considerably ensconced in the Rajya Sabha, making the already weather-beaten Opposition's task harder.

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