BJP pushes hard for majority in Rajya Sabha 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Photo: PTI

The Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party’s loss is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s gain. Not only is this true in the case of Lok Sabha, but also the Rajya Sabha. The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance is now inching towards getting a majority in the Rajya Sabha too.

Soon after the resignation of Neeraj Shekhar – who was the Samajwadi Party (SP) nominee to the Upper House – two SP MPs and two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from the Rajya Sabha are said to be in talks with the BJP. Sources indicate that the cross over will take place soon.

Earlier, four Rajya Sabha MPs from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) – YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, Garikapati Mohan Rao and TG Venkatesh had left the party to join BJP. Another RS MP, Ram Kumar Kashyap of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) had shifted loyalties to the saffron party.

Also read: Former Samajwadi MP Neeraj Shekhar joins BJP

The SP, which had 14 members in the Rajya Sabha is now down to a dozen. The first to move out was the party’s national general secretary Amar Singh, who had a fall out with party president Akhilesh Yadav.

Singh, who affixed “Chowkidar” to Twitter handle during the Lok Sabha election campaign, openly campaigned for the BJP candidate from Rampur. Since then, he has been knocking the doors of the saffron party for re-nomination to the Upper House.

In the House of 245, BJP’s current strength is 116, seven short of majority mark. With a two-third majority in the Lok Sabha, a majority in the Upper House will grant NDA easy passage of bills. The BJP had crossed the Congress tally in the Upper House for the first time in mid-2018.

Why are RS numbers crucial for NDA

The NDA government under Modi’s leadership has between 2014-19 hampered by the stance taken by regional political outfits like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) when it came to passing important legislations.

The government has adopted the ordinance route after its failure to get some of them passed in the Upper House, due to lack of numbers. A majority in the Rajya Sabha is essential for the BJP-led NDA government to fulfil the promises made in its manifesto.

Also read: Mr PM, need action against BJP motor-mouths, berating them not enough

Why is BJP in a rush?

With the resignation of Neeraj Shekhar and a possible resignation of four more opposition MPs from Rajya Sabha, re-elections will be held within six months. With 325 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the BJP is seeing an increase of five Rajya Sabha MPs within 2019.

With these numbers, the NDA will be saved from the embarrassment caused by its ally like the Janata Dal (United), which recently voted against the government during the Triple Talaq Bill.

November 2020 will see major gains for BJP 

Elections for 10 Rajya Sabha seats were held in 2019 while 73 seats will be filled throughout 2020. Besides one nomination in February in place of KTS Tulsi, elections are to be held to elect 72 members (4 Andhra Pradesh, 1 Arunachal Pradesh, 3 Assam, 5 Bihar, 2 Chhattisgarh, 4 Gujarat, 2 Haryana, 1 Himachal Pradesh, 2 Jharkhand, 4 Karnataka, 3 Madhya Pradesh, 7 Maharashtra, 1 Manipur, 1 Meghalaya, 1 Mizoram, 4 Odisha, 3 Rajasthan, 6 Tamil Nadu, 2 Telangana, 10 Uttar Pradesh, 1 Uttarakhand and 5 West Bengal), between April and November 2020.

The biggest gains for the BJP are likely to come from UP where the NDA swept the 2017 state elections by winning a mammoth 325 seats out of the total 403. Ten seats in UP are due for re-election in November 2020.

Congress, which will see 21 members retiring from the Rajya Sabha, can probably expect only 12 members being re-elected, hence suffering a loss of nine seats in the Upper House. The BJP, will see 13 members retiring from the Upper House, could see its tally reaching to 25 with a gain of 12 seats in UP.

Forthcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana are crucial for the NDA. The BJP-led alliance will have to do well in these elections to get to the magic mark in the Rajya Sabha by November 2020. Its prospects were hampered due to losses in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha.

And with the number game in hand in the Upper House, the BJP and the NDA could well look forth to keeping its promises to the people of the country, they had spelt out before the 2019 general elections.

(Vivek Avasthi is Senior Editor – Politics with Business India Television) 

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