Ahead of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections, unity eludes Opposition
The Congress has communicated to other Opposition parties that it wants to field BK Hariprasad, a lawmaker from Karnataka, as the common candidate for the post of deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha against the ruling NDA’s Haribansh Narayan Singh.
“Our candidate will be BK Hariprasad,” said CPI leader D Raja. An official announcement is expected later Wednesday morning.
“Party must have taken this decision after a lot of thinking. We will talk to all the opposition leaders and discuss what is to be done,” Hariprasad told ANI.
While a large number of Opposition parties are expected to support Hariprasad, it is not clear if parties like AAP, Trinamool Congress and TDP accept Prasad’s name. These parties are averse to the Congress in their regional turf and in case, they refuse to support for Hariprasad, the Opposition strength will be depleted further.
An OBC leader, Hariprasad served as a general secretary of the Congress for a long time before being removed from the post this year.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has an edge in the election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post, with the Congress and other Opposition parties unable to zero in on a joint candidate till late Tuesday evening to field against Haribansh Narayan Singh.
In a House of 245 members, the winner is decided by a simple majority.
The election on Thursday will test the NDA’s floor management skills in the Upper House, where it is in a minority and has faced obstructions on several bills and other issues from opposition parties. If the NDA wins, it will mark its first significant victory in the Upper House. The ruling coalition has managed to garner the support of fence-sitters such as the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), a senior government functionary said on condition of anonymity. The Opposition appears unsure of its total strength.
“With just a year left before the general election, the House poll reflects the ground reality of the Opposition camp,” political analyst and former Lok Sabha secretary general Afzal Amanullah said.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday called chief ministers such as Naveen Patnaik of Odisha and K Chandrashekar Rao of Telangana for support, said a BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar also tried to contact Patnaik. Later in the evening, Patnaik informed them that he had promised Nitish Kumar that the BJD would vote for Haribansh Narayan Singh, a lawmaker of Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), an Opposition leader said.
Kesava Rao, a senior leader of Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), said: “Nitish and our chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao are very good friends for many years.”