55 MPs set to retire from Rajya Sabha; seats up for grabs for southern states
The biennial Rajya Sabha elections scheduled on March 26 will see a total of 51 Members of the Parliament (MPs) retiring, leaving four seats vacant. While Maharashtra tops the list with seven MPs leaving their posts, Tamil Nadu follows second with six members. Of the other southern states Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have four and two MPs retiring, respectively.
The biennial Rajya Sabha elections scheduled on March 26 will see a total of 51 Members of the Parliament (MPs) retiring, leaving four seats vacant.
While Maharashtra tops the list with seven MPs leaving their posts, Tamil Nadu follows second with six members. Of the other southern states Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have four and two MPs retiring, respectively.
Madhya Pradesh’s Digvijaya Singh and Ramdass Athwale, Sharad Pawar from Maharashtra and Vijay Goel from Rajasthan are some of the prominent Upper House members who will be retiring next month. It is reported that Sharad Pawar may contest for another term.
Of the 55 total seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 15 vacancies, Indian National Congress (INC) has 11 and the remaining are in the hands of regional parties.
To date, the total strength of the BJP is 82, which is expected to decrease marginally to 78 as it may lose at least two seats in the Congress-ruled states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar, where it is in coalition government.
In Rajasthan, all the three retiring MPs – Ram Narain Dudi, Vijay Goel, Narayan Lal Panchariya – are from the BJP. In Madhya Pradesh, has two MPs – Satyanarayan Jatiya and Prabhat Jha – from BJP and R.K. Sinha and C.P. Thakur from Bihar too are a part of the saffron party.
Congress too is expected to see a fall in the number of seats they hold to come down from 48 to 46 as it may lose in the BJP-ruled states of Himachal Pradesh (Viplove Thakur) and Haryana (Selja).
As for Andhra Pradesh, two MPs from Congress namely Mohammed Alik Khan and T. Subbarami Reddy, and Thota Seetharama Lakshmi (Telugu Desam Party) and K. Keshava Rao (Telengana Rashtra Samiti) are retiring.
In Telangana, K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao of Congress and Garikapati Mohan Rao of BJP will be leaving the Upper House.
In Tamil Nadu
As expected, while All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) still lingers on choosing its candidates, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), on March 1 announced its list of candidates, which coincidentally was the birthday of the party chief MK Stalin.
The party has chosen sitting Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchy Siva, advocate N.R. Elango and former minister Anthiyur Selvaraj as their candidates.
While Tiruchy Siva, is contesting for the fourth time, Elango’s name was doing the rounds from the last election itself. However, he withdrew from the race, since the party gave a seat to Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko as per their alliance agreement. At least now his chance of contesting is ensured.
According to political observers, it came as a surprise that the DMK decided to field Anthiyur Selvaraj, who served as a minister of Khadi department between 1996 and 2001. Coming from Arunthathiyar community, which is considered as a depressed class than Pallars and Paraiyars, if he is elected to the Rajya Sabha, the party will create history by sending a Scheduled Caste person to the Upper House.
While many hail the decision of the DMK as another step of social justice, the innate reason is different. The party’s strength in the Kongu regions such as Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal and Salem is weak and in order to give a shot in the arm of the cadres of those regions, the DMK has decided to field Selvaraj.
The move is also seen as an act of assuaging the anger of SCs, due to the comment made by R.S. Bharathi, recently.
On the other hand, the AIADMK is facing pressure both inside the party and from its allies like Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) as they were not given a chance in the last elections and may fight for a seat this time.
Meanwhile, former minister of electricity department Natham R. Viswanathan, former Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha M. Thambi Durai and V. Maitreyan, a three-time RS MP are also in the race.
A spokesperson of the party told The Federal that there is no agreement signed between AIADMK and DMDK over Rajya Sabha seats and hence there is no question of giving a seat to them.
“While forming alliance we signed a pact with PMK of giving seven plus one seat. So in the last RS election we gave a seat to them. But we did not sign any such pact with DMDK. However, as an ally they are requesting us for a seat. Whether giving a seat or not, it is with the discretion of party leadership. Likewise, not only senior leaders are in the race. Even an ordinary cadre has a chance to contest in this election,” he said.
The AIADMK is expected to announce its candidates on March 6.