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Elections over, Rajya Sabha must show the way | Opinion

It was envisaged as the House which, because of its nature, while being representative of popular political aspirations, was not hostage to it. But unfortunately, there is a tendency in the Rajya Sabha to replicate often the features of the Lok Sabha. And so with members in the well and constant disruption, the House too has seen little business in this session.

editorials Updated: Mar 26, 2018 12:13 IST
Hindustan Times
The architects of India’s constitution envisaged the Rajya Sabha as a council of elders, a House which would not be guided by immediate political passions and tactical political calculations. (PTI)

On Friday, with the election process for 59 seats across 17 states completed, the complexion of the Rajya Sabha changed. The National Democratic Alliance now has a comfortable edge in the Upper House, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having the highest number of members in the House. But the ruling alliance is still short of a legislative majority. The election process was marked by three features. One, 33 candidates in 10 states were elected unopposed — as per the legislative strength of the parties backing them in the assemblies. Two, out of the 26 seats for which polling took place, the BJP won 12 and the Congress won six. And finally, the contest was sharpest in a single seat in Uttar Pradesh. The Bahujan Samaj Party candidate was supported by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress. Coming soon after the SP’s win in the bypolls, this was seen as a test for the opposition alliance. But the BJP was able to win not only its eight assured seats from the state, but also get this additional seat, primarily through defections and cross-voting. While the Opposition has blamed the BJP of misusing its State power, the party’s morale has recovered somewhat with the win.

But the important question to ask, at a time when there remains an impasse in Parliament with no business being conducted, is not who won, but what is happening in the house of which they will now become a part. The architects of India’s constitution envisaged the Rajya Sabha as a council of elders, a House which would not be guided by immediate political passions and tactical political calculations. It was envisaged as the House which, because of its nature, while being representative of popular political aspirations, was not hostage to it. But unfortunately, there is a tendency in the Rajya Sabha to often replicate the features of the Lok Sabha. And so with members in the well and constant disruption, the House, too, has seen little business in this session. Chairman and Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu, has emphasised to members the need for orderly conduct and even rebuked them, but to little effect. The post-recess budget session now threatens to be a complete washout. There is still a little over a week to go. Before new elected members are sworn in, the Rajya Sabha must rise beyond partisan politics and show the way to the directly elected representatives.

On Friday, with the election process for 59 seats across 17 states completed, the complexion of the Rajya Sabha changed. The National Democratic Alliance now has a comfortable edge in the upper house, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having the highest number of members in the house. But the ruling alliance is still short of a legislative majority. The election process was marked by three features. One, 33 candidates in 10 states were elected unopposed — as per the legislative strength of the parties backing them in the state assemblies. Two, out of the 26 seats for which polling took place, the BJP won 12 and the Congress won six.

And finally, the contest was sharpest in a single seat in Uttar Pradesh. The Bahujan Samaj Party candidate was supported by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress. Coming soon after the SP’s win in the by-polls, this was seen as a test for the Opposition alliance. But the BJP was able to win not only its eight assured seats from the state, but also get this additional seat, primarily through defections and cross-voting. While the Opposition has blamed the BJP of misusing its State power, the party’s morale has recovered somewhat with the win.

But the important question to ask, at a time when there remains an impasse in Parliament with no business being conducted, is not who won, but what is happening in the House of which they will now become a part. The architects of India’s Constitution envisaged the Rajya Sabha as a council of elders, a House which would not be guided by immediate political passions and tactical political calculations. It was envisaged as the House which, because of its nature, while being representative of popular political aspirations, was not hostage to it. But unfortunately, there is a tendency in the Rajya Sabha to often replicate the features of the Lok Sabha.

And so with members in the well and constant disruption, the House, too, has seen little business in this session. Chairman and Vice-President, M Venkaiah Naidu, has emphasised to members the need for orderly conduct and even rebuked them, but to little effect. The post-recess budget session now threatens to be a complete washout. There is still a little over a week to go. Before new elected members are sworn in, the Rajya Sabha must rise beyond partisan politics and show the way to the directly elected representatives.

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 11:59 IST