Harivansh vs Hariprasad: Battle ground set for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman post
With the stage set for an electoral battle on Thursday between NDA’s Harivansh Narayan Singh (JD-U) and joint opposition candidate BK Hariprasad for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have reached out to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik seeking the support of his party for the NDA candidate.
The candidates filed their nomination papers on Wednesday before Rajya Sabha secretary general Desh Deepak Verma. The position fell vacant after PJ Kurien retired in July.
With the ruling NDA just shy of numbers on its own, the role of parties such as the BJD, the AIADMK and the TRS becomes crucial.
BJP president Amit Shah, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and Bihar CM Kumar have also spoken with the Odisha chief minister to seek his Biju Janata Dal’s support for the NDA nominee.
Kumar also called up Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to seek support.
The BJD and the TRS have not yet made their stand clear yet, while the YSR Congress has said it would vote against the NDA.
BJP sources expect Harivansh to get the support of 126 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 MPs.
The breakup goes something like this: 91 members of the NDA, three nominated and erstwhile SP MP Amar Singh, AIADMK (13 members), TRS (six), YSRCP (two) and INLD (one) — adding up to 117. Adding the 9 votes of the BJD, the total goes to 126 votes, BJP leaders claimed.
Hariprasad has the support of 61 MPs of the Congress-led UPA, 13 each of the TMC and the SP, six MPs of the TDP, five of the CPI(M), four each from the BSP and the DMK, two of the CPI and one MP of the JD(S), adding up to 109 members.
One nominated and one independent member will also support him, taking the expected opposition total to about 111, Congress leaders said.
The PDP, which has two MPs, has declared it is abstaining. The AAP with three members has not clarified its stand so for. However, both are unlikely to support the BJP-backed candidate.
Harivansh, a first-timer in the Upper House and a former editor of Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar, is considered close to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Hariprasad, a Congress MP from Karnataka, who was on Wednesday declared as the opposition candidate, is into his third term in the Rajya Sabha.
Talking to reporters, Congress leader Anand Sharma said five sets of nomination papers — five proposers and five seconders — were filed by the combined opposition.
He accused the government and the BJP of “using every tactic, using the influence of their authority and power just to swing the election”.
Sharma claimed that the opposition has the numbers and there will be a contest.
“The BJP, if it had the majority, should have fielded its own candidate...They lacked majority and that’s why they are desperate to reach out to others outside the fold of the NDA,” Sharma said.