The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), with the help of its issue-based supporters, looks set to get the better of the main opposition bloc in terms of numbers in the Rajya Sabha by July next year.
The changed scenario will bring the Narendra Modi government within striking distance of being able to push reform measures requiring parliamentary approval. While the BJP may not need to placate the Congress to back the bills any more, it will have to keep in good humour parties like the AIADMK, Trinamool Congress, SP and BJD, apart from keeping the NDA flock together.
Considering the strength of parties in state assemblies, NDA’s numbers in the upper house are likely to go up from 62 to at least 73, including nominated members usually known to support the government.
While the Opposition’s numbers will go down from 109 to 94, the strength of the NDA’s “issue-based supporters” will go up from 29 to at least 35 in July next year.
With the Opposition’s numbers decreased, the NDA regime will be better placed after July 2016 to work on those on the fence to cobble together a majority in the 245-member House.
From now until July next year, there will be 76 vacancies in the Upper House, including in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. Given that BJP and parties that have friendly relations with it have made major gains in these states, they will win many seats at the cost of the opposition.
Since many regional parties have been taking independent lines on issues, HT was able to discern four broad categories: the NDA; the opposition comprising Congress, Left, and some other parties that have consistently taken an anti-government line in Parliament; “issue-based supporters” comprising parties that have, more often than not, supported the government’s stance; and fence-sitters, which includes parties ideologically opposed to the BJP but whose stance varies from issue to issue.
The above figures do not take into account the five vacancies in Bihar where assembly polls are due later this year. All five seats are now held by the JD(U). A good electoral show in Bihar will help NDA improve its tally.
Since its inception last year, the NDA government has been in the minority in the Upper House where, ironically, the previous UPA government also faced a similar situation during its tenure. As the opposition flexed its muscles, several key bills got delayed or got stalled.
In many cases, the Opposition forced a detailed parliamentary review even as the government was eager to pass them early.