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Gujarat, Himachal election results will not change BJP’s standing in Rajya Sabha

The BJP, however, may cross the halfway mark in the Upper House with the help of friendly parties by next June.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2017 07:43 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gujarat assembly election results,Himachal assembly election results,Assembly election results
BJP workers burst fire-crackers to celebrate their victory in the Assembly elections, at the party office 'Kamlam' in Gandhinagar on Monday. (PTI)

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on its own is unlikely to gain a majority in the Rajya Sabha until the 2019 general elections but might cross the halfway mark in the Upper House with the help of friendly parties by next June.

The BJP’s victories in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are expected to push the NDA and its partners past the majority mark in the Upper House, where the government has often struggled to push bills through because of the Opposition. The NDA currently holds 76 seats in the 245-member Upper House, where the halfway mark is 123.

Read | Gujarat election result: The BJP has won but the Congress hasn’t lost

Between now and April 2018, 13 states with a combined strength of 65 seats will hold biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha. This includes Uttar Pradesh (nine seats), Maharashtra (six seats), Madhya Pradesh (five seats) and Rajasthan (three seats). The NDA is likely to gain 10 more seats on its own, taking its tally to 86.

The NDA will then have to rely on friendly parties such as Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK (13 seats), Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal (8) and a clutch of smaller outfits (16 seats) to take it past the majority mark. The saffron party’s chances will improve if it sweeps Karnataka, which holds four Rajya Sabha seats and goes to the polls early next year. The government will also nominate four members to the Upper House and can expect their support in key bills and issues.

The BJP’s victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh on Monday will have no bearing on the party’s Upper House strength till after the 2019 general elections.

A majority in the Rajya Sabha will be a big boost for the government, which has often been embarrassed by the Congress-led opposition that has frequently stalled and delayed legislation.

Read | Why the BJP win doesn’t have that usual aura of success

Opposition parties such as the Congress, Left Front, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had come together to even insert amendments to the President’s speech delivered at the beginning of the Budget session the last time. The electoral results of states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh – all of which go to the polls next year – will have no impact because the RS seats from these states don’t come up for election before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

But it will be crucial for the government to keep in good humour smaller and regional parties to cross the majority mark. For instance, the BJD has often supported the NDA in the past but is now miffed over the construction of a barrage on the Mahanadi by the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh. If the BJD is not in the NDA’s corner, the ruling coalition will struggle to cross the majority mark before the 2019 general election.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 07:39 IST