The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may lose hold of a Rajya Sabha seat from Jharkhand during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections after the state showed its back to the party in the assembly polls on Monday (December 24).
The JMM-Congress-RJD alliance secured a total of 47 seats (JMM 30, Congress 16, RJD 1), whereas the ruling BJP won 25. The AJSU won two seats, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) three seats, and CPI(ML)(Liberation), NCP and two Independents won one each. The half-way mark in the 81-seat assembly is 41.
This means that the Amit Shah-headed BJP is likely to be three seats below the required number to secure a seat each time when the biennial Rajya Sabha election takes place in Jharkhand.
However, if the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) decides to extend its support to the Narendra Modi-led government even after standing as the opposition for the assembly polls, the BJP could retain its current number in the Upper House.
Out of six Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand, currently, the BJP has three seats on its name while the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have one each and the sixth one is held by industrialist Parimal Nathwani, an independent Member of Parliament.
Though the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is a minority in the Upper House, the BJP-led government has been able to successfully clear crucial legislative changes such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the abrogation of Article 370 which reorganised the status of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to two Union Territories.
The bills were passed in Rajya Sabha with the highest majority due to differences within the Opposition parties.
Jharkhand, which will face by-elections on two seats each in 2020, 2022 and 2024, may witness a direct fight between the BJP and the ruling JMM-Congress-RJD alliance for the six seats of the Top House of Parliament, however, the current calculations in the state assembly have made the contest interesting.
Unlike Lok Sabha elections in which candidates are directly elected by the public through voting, in a Rajya Sabha tally, the elected Members of Legislative Assembly vote and pick a candidate.
As for Jharkhand, which has 81 MLAs in the state assembly, any Upper House candidate would need at least 28 MLA votes to win a seat by the formula of 81/(2+1) +1.
Meanwhile, if BJP can get support from JVM, the equation could be tweaked. A BJP-JVM conglomeration will have 28 MLAs and can secure three out of the six seats which will go for 2024 polls. In that situation, the BJP, which has three MPs in the Upper House from Jharkhand, can improve its totals.
But as for today, the JVM has kept the saffron outfit to a one-arm distance which makes the chances of BJP winning a Rajya Sabha seat foggy and the JMM-led alliance can bag all the six seats.
As no elections happen without drama, when the voting takes place while the first candidate can win through direct votes, the second seat will be controversial each time polls happen. The JMM-Congress-RJD alliance would surely grab the first seat, but having only 19 extra MLAs in the election of the second seat, the place would be decided by the second preference votes of the MLAs. However, even there JMM’s alliance will have an upper hand over the BJP if the current scenario is considered.
The BJP-led NDA government is set to gain a majority in the Rajya Sabha by the end of 2021, but if the saffron party fails to get a single seat in the Upper House from Jharkhand, it will leave the National Democratic Alliance with a reduced majority over the Congress-led Opposition in the House.