BJP-led NDA inches closer to majority mark in RS

olls for the 56 seats of the Rajya Sabha have brought cheer in the camp of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it has increased its tally to 97 and that of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to 117 in the 240-member Upper House. At present, the NDA grouping is short of four members to achieve the simple majority mark.

Amid cross-voting and elements of surprise, the BJP pulled off stunning victories in Tuesday’s elections in UP and Himachal Pradesh. From both the states, the Lotus party snatched two extra seats of the Upper House. On Tuesday, elections to 15 Rajya Sabha seats were held across UP, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka and the BJP bagged 10 of these seats.

Out of the 56 Rajya Sabha vacant seats, the BJP has won 30, including 20 unopposed. In UP, the BJP bagged eight out of 10 seats as the party was helped by Samajwadi Party (SP) rebels and Independents.

At the lone seat in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh, the ruling Congress faced an embarrassing situation when six of its MLAs cross-voted and despite being acutely short of numbers in the 68-member state Assembly, the BJP pulled off a stunning victory. In Karnataka, the Congress won three out of the four seats while one seat went in the kitty of the BJP.

According to data from the Rajya Sabha website, the BJP currently holds the majority position in the Upper House, followed by the Congress with 30 seats. Trinamool Congress holds 13 seats, while both DMK and AAP hold 10 seats each. YSRCP follows with nine seats, BRS with seven, RJD with six, CPM with five, AIADMK with four, and JD(U) with five seats.

The strength of the Rajya Sabha will be 240 after all 56 newly elected members take oath, including five vacancies - four from Jammu and Kashmir and one from the nominated member category.

Ahead of the polling day, the NDA had 109 MPs in the 238-member Rajya Sabha. The opposition INDIA grouping had 89 MPs.

Ten seats from Uttar Pradesh, six each from Maharashtra and Bihar, five each from Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, four each from Karnataka and Gujarat, three each from Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, and one each from Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Chhattisgarh went to polls.

The majority mark for the BJP-led NDA grouping becomes important in case it returns to power after the April-May Lok Sabha elections as it will come handy while passing or blocking bills.

The biennial elections to the 56 seats were needed as 50 members will complete their term on April 2 and six will retire on April 3. Out of the 56 MPs who are retiring, 28 are from the BJP and 10 are from the Congress.

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