Come August and the NDA government at the Centre may be able to get the better of the Congress-led bloc in Rajya Sabha.
The ruling dispensation may not get a majority in the Upper House during its term till 2019, but it can push through important bills with support from many regional parties, which have maintained equidistance from both the BJP and Congress-led groupings.
After the biennial elections for 13 Rajya Sabha seats on Monday, the Congress’ tally has gone up to 65 while the BJP’s has come down to 47 in the 245-member house.
An analysis based on the strength of different political parties in state assemblies shows the government may be better placed in the Upper House after elections for 56 seats in 15 states, which will fall vacant by August 1(see graphic). There are 7 vacancies in the Nominated category. The government nominates 12 members, who have achieved distinction in different fields, while 233 members are elected by members of legislative assemblies.
By August, the Congress tally is projected to come down to 61, mainly due to losses in Andhra Pradesh (2), Telangana (1), Maharashtra (1), and Jharkhand (1); it will gain one RS seat from Karnataka. The BJP is projected to gain one seat, taking its tally to 48, despite gaining seats in Maharashtra (2) and Bihar (1) as it is projected to lose one each in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. Counting the Nominated and AIADMK MPs, the NDA could bank on the assured support of 86 in the upper house as against the Congress-led bloc’s 87.
Small wonder, government strategists are wooing leaders of regional parties. The first half of the Budget session witnessed a clear division in the opposition. When the Congress and Left introduced amendments to the Aadhaar bill, the TMC, BJD, SP and BSP staged a walkout. Government strategists see such scenes playing out quite often in future.
There may be one addition to the NDA’s tally if the TDP-BJP combine manage to win three seats in Andhra Pradesh where there will be four vacancies in June. While the TDP has the numbers to win 2 seats on its own, getting the third one could be a tricky affair. It will be interesting to see if the TDP gives an assured seat to sitting BJP MP Nirmala Sitharaman. Few other seats including those in Jharkhand, UP, and Maharashtra could also witness a photo-finish with no party having the requisite numbers for a clear win. Many smaller parties such as the SP, YSR Congress and TRS look set to gain in the coming biennial elections.
The AIADMK has been a consistent supporter of the NDA in Parliament except on the GST bill. The party’s RS strength may see a change as six vacancies from Tamil Nadu will be filled up after the assembly polls.