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The Narendra Modi government may have to wait another three years for achche din in the Rajya Sabha.
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has a sweeping majority in the Lower House, but only 61 MPs in the 245-member Upper House, which ties the government’s hands in pushing bills through Parliament.
The government is hoping the balance will tilt in its favour over the next three years when 105 Rajya Sabha seats fall vacant and 17 states are slated to hold assembly elections.
If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA pulls off another massive win in the assembly polls, the Modi government may not even need the help of its outside supporters in the Rajya Sabha after April 2018. The NDA government is set to face its next general election in April 2019.
While Lok Sabha members are elected directly by voters, Rajya Sabha members are elected by state MLAs. So, more MLAs for a party means it can get more MPs in the Upper House.
Among the 17 states, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal hold the key for the BJP as the party has vast scope to improve its tally and, consequently, get more members in the Treasury Benches of the Rajya Sabha.
These five states have 89 Upper House seats between them. Currently, the NDA has just 15 MPs in these states.
The government’s lack of numbers in the Rajya Sabha recently forced it to push the pause button on the insurance bill as a united Opposition pressed for further review of the legislation.