Between 2014 and 2019, if the BJP had converted itself into a vote-getting machine — constantly wresting power in the states — since the summer of 2019, it has been focusing on changing the number dynamics in the Rajya Sabha.
This the ruling party does by either roping in members of other parties to resign and then contest on its symbol or lure disgruntled leaders — along with their followers — and offer them tickets.
Since the mid-summer of 2019, several Rajya Sabha members from parties such as Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), including the likes of YS Chowdary and Neeraj Shekhar, have abandoned their old homes and embraced the saffron party.
As for attracting aggrieved rival party leaders, it has begun with Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, who has the support of at least 20 MLAs.
“The stability of the Kamal Nath government was always in question. Thus, cross-voting in Rajya Sabha polls could have been expected. But once Amit Shah and new president JP Nadda took the plunge, a big difference can be expected,” Union Minister Giriraj Singh told The Federal.
Taking advantage of the mounting pressure on the Congress vis-a-vis cross-voting, the BJP is likely to field three candidates in Haryana though it has the numbers to push for only one seat.
The BJP strategy for Bihar has an essential caste angle and that too in the context of November 2020 assembly polls. To consolidate its hold over Bhumihar caste, a known group always taking an anti-RJD stance, the BJP has decided to field Vivek, the son of former Union Minister CP Thakur from the state.
A BJP leader from the Northeast said Scindia’s entry into the party fold has also given a broad signal that weeks of anti-CAA protest against the Modi government and even Delhi riots have not made the Lotus party ‘friendless.’
The Rajya Sabha polls often turn out to be mere formalities as parties would go by their respective numbers in states. But the strategy adopted by the BJP has made the show interesting and unpredictable. Therefore, the upcoming polls, scheduled for March 26, is being keenly watched for its unexpected twists and turns.
The NDA tally is 97 and the BJP has 82 on its own. Nadda, according to sources, told confidants that the party would try to increase the NDA tally by 11-12 in the March 26 polls and by 16 to 18 by March 2022.
Numbers suggest three seats would come into its kitty from Maharashtra – one out of the three seats from Rajasthan, at least two from Madhya Pradesh (including Scindia), one from Haryana, one from Himachal, one from Meghalaya and one or two seats from Bihar.
Besides the constituents of the NDA, there are parties like the BJD, YSRCP, the TRS, and the NPF, which have more than once strategically helped the BJP in the upper house. These parties, together, have 19 members. They come in handy whenever push comes to a shove.