Millennium Post

Up for grabs

Small but noteable changes are expected for the power balance in the Upper House when 55 Rajya Sabha seats will be contested next month

According to calculations based on the election process to the House of Elders, voting across 17 states assemblies, set for March 26, may lead to a net loss of four seats for the BJP-led NDA and a gain of three seats for the Congress and its allies. At the same, the pro-BJP parties will see a net gain of two seats in this round, while Chandrashekhar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi, consider a fence-sitter, will also gain two seats.

The results are likely to see the BJP's dependence on its allies and outside supporters to pass bills growing, at least, for the time being. But the BJP insiders said the results are unlikely to have a major impact on the current equation in the Upper House as the NDA, despite being in the minority, was able to push key bills such as Triple Talaq, Citizenship (Amendment) Act and nullification of Article 370, by taking advantage of a fractured opposition.

BJP-led NDA, the largest groupings in the Upper House with 99 seats, will be reduced to 95 seats while the Congress and allies (64 seats) are set to reach the tally of 67 at the end of this election.

Among pro-NDA parties, AIADMK will lose one seat and Navin Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal will retain three MPs in the Upper House. The best news for the BJP will come from Andhra Pradesh, where Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress — usually supportive of the ruling coalition — will gain as many as four seats.

Out of 17 states where voting will be conducted, only six are ruled by BJP and its allies while another six have the Congress and its partners in power. The remaining states are ruled by parties not aligned to any of the two sides.

Of the 55 seats up for grabs, Maharashtra accounts for the highest vacancies with seven.

The results will be declared on March 30 and the last date for filing of notifications is March 13.

Unlike the Lok Sabha polls, where MPs are elected directly by the people, members of legislative assemblies vote to elect Rajya Sabha MPs from their respective states.

The Congress is all set to lose its representation in the Rajya Sabha from two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, while Telugu Desam Party will retain its lone seat in the Upper House. Andhra Pradesh's ruling YSR Congress Party which has 151 in the 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly, will walk away with all four Rajya Sabha seats. In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtriya Samithi, which has 104 members out of 119 member assembly, will win both the Rajya Sabha seats that are falling vacant.

On the 82 seats it has in the Upper House, the BJP will face polls in 15 states, while the tenure of 12 Congress Rajya Sabha MPs will end.

Four members each of the Trinamool Congress and AIADMK are set to retire, as are three MPs from Janata Dal (United) and two each from Biju Janata Dal, TRS and NCP. The tenures of one member each from of Shiv Sena, CPI-M, Bodo Peoples Front, Rashtriya Janata Dal, TDP and DMK will end.

BJP will make gains in north-east, electing three members from Assam and one from Manipur. In Meghalaya the ruling National Peoples' Party, a BJP ally will send one member to the Upper House.

The BJP will also send two members from Maharashtra and Gujarat, one each from Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.

Congress, which is losing all the seats from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, is looking at gaining two members each from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and one each from Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana.

Sanjay Kumar, director at the Centre for Study of Developing Societies said the change will not impact either the ruling BJP or the opposition parties. "Overall, there is not much effect on either side. As passing a Bill or getting votes in favour, the BJP does not need to worry much. There might be a moral impact on the leadership, but no electoral consequences as such", he said.

Views expressed are strictly personal

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