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Opposition unity to be tested in election for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman

The Congress has hinted that it is open to supporting opposition parties but a final decision in this regard will be taken only after seeing who the proposed candidate is.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2018 07:44 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman,Rajya Sabha,Opposition
Former president Pratibha Patil, CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and others during the Iftar party hosted by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, in New Delhi on June 13, 2018. (PTI)

The election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post during the Parliament’s upcoming monsoon session is likely to put Opposition unity to test before next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

Amid the buzz that Trinamool Congress (TMC) may push the name of its MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy as the common Opposition candidate for the deputy chairperson’s post, there are talks that key constituents of the ‘federal front’ and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) might take a calibrated stand on the nomination.

The election has been necessitated by Congress leader and current Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson PJ Kurien’s retirement from the Upper House on July 2.

The Congress has hinted that it is open to supporting opposition parties but a final decision in this regard will be taken only after seeing who the proposed candidate is, leaders familiar with the matter said.

The party has also opened communication channels with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Trinamool, its rivals in Odisha and West Bengal respectively, to explore the possibilities of fielding a common candidate, Congress insiders said.

Trinamool Congress said on Wednesday that it has not named any leader as its candidate for the deputy chairperson’s post so far. “No decision on opposition candidate for deputy chairman. We have not put up any name. United Opposition will come up with a name later,” Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha parliamentarian Derek O’Brien said on Wednesday.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who enjoys a close working relation with both Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, maintained that the Left would not back any Trinamool candidate.

“Under any circumstances, will not support a Trinamool nominee,” Yechury said, adding a fresh dimension to the struggle within the Opposition to put up a joint fight against the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 00:01 IST