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Govt, Opposition to battle it out in poll for Rajya Sabha deputy chair on August 9

The Deputy Chairman’s poll will see the second electoral battle between the two camps in this Monsoon session in Parliament.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2018 23:42 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajya Sabha deputy chair,Rajya Sabha deputy chair poll,Rajya Sabha
On Monday, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu informed the house that the poll would be held at 11 am on August 9 and nominations would have to be filed before noon on August 8. (PTI)

The much-awaited election for the post of the Rajya Sabha’s Deputy Chairman will be held on August 9, House Chairman Venkaiah Naidu announced on Monday, setting the stage for an electoral battle between the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the Opposition.

As things stand, the NDA has support from 93 members while the Opposition has 118 MPs on its side in the 244-member strong Upper House. But the former is banking of 33 fence-sitters including members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Biju Janata Dal to sail through. The Opposition is banking on cross voting of disgruntled ruling-coalition lawmakers in the poll where no party whip is applicable.

The Deputy Chairman’s poll will see the second electoral battle between the two camps in this session.

Last month, the Opposition was defeated in the no-confidence vote in the Lok Sabha where it secured 135 votes to the NDA’s 330. On Monday, Naidu informed the house that the poll would be held at 11 am on August 9 and nominations would have to be filed before noon on August 8. HT reported on Sunday that at a meeting with a top NDA leader, Naidu had asked the ruling side to expedite the process to elect the new Deputy Chairman — if possible, in the ongoing session itself.

Amidst reports that the NDA will field Janata Dal (United) lawmaker Harivansh for the post, the Congress, Trinamool Congress and some other Opposition parties have indicated that there is little chance of them supporting a ruling coalition nominee for the coveted post. “We expect a consensus will be built around an Opposition member for this post. If the NDA puts up a candidate, then we Opposition parties will sit together and decide on fielding our common candidate,” leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, the Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

Opposition leaders went into a huddle on Monday evening to decide their poll strategy. “Three names have been shortlisted: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Tiruchi Siva, Nationalist Congress Party’s Vandana Chavan and nominated member KTS Tulsi. But Chavan is seen as a frontrunner,” said a senior leader who asked not to be identified. Another meeting will be held on Tuesday. A large section of the Opposition including the Congress feels that if an NCP candidate is fielded, it might help in winning over NDA allies such as the Shiv Sena. “Pawar is one of the most influential political figures of this time. He may even get votes from some other regional parties who would never vote for a Congress candidate,” said another Opposition leader who too asked not to be identified.

The post of the Deputy Chairman has been lying vacant since June this year following the retirement of P J Kurien who was elected the Deputy Chairman during the UPA government’s tenure.

“I am not surprised that the deputy chairman’s post is headed for an election. I think in the present day politics, it is difficult to build consensus between the NDA and the Opposition. The way ruling party is playing politics, it also makes it difficult to take the Opposition along with them,” said Sanjay Kumar, director, Centre for the Study of the Developing Society.

First Published: Aug 06, 2018 23:25 IST