Polls for 55 Rajya Sabha seats to be held in March
Fifty-five Rajya Sabha seats will be up for grabs next month in the biggest biennial polls since Prime Minister Narendra Modi won his second term, according to the schedule announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday.
According to calculations based on the election process to the House of Elders, voting across 17 state assemblies, set for March 26, may lead to a net loss of four seats for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and a gain of three seats for the Congress and its allies. At the same time, pro-BJP parties will see a net gain of two seats in this round, while K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi, considered a fence sitter, will also gain two seats.
The results are likely to see the BJP’s dependence on its allies and outside supporters to pass bills growing, at least for the time being. But BJP insiders said the results are unlikely to have a major impact on the current equation in the Upper House as the NDA, despite being in the minority, was able to push key bills such as Triple Talaq, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and nullification of Article 370, by taking advantage of a fractured Opposition.
The BJP-led NDA, the largest grouping in the Upper House with 99 seats, will be reduced to 95 seats while the Congress and allies (64 seats) are set to reach the tally of 67 at the end of this election.
Among the pro-NDA parties, AIADMK will lose one seat and Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal will retain its three MPs in the Upper House. The best news for the BJP will come from Andhra Pradesh, where Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP — usually supportive of the ruling coalition — will gain as many as four seats.
Out of the 17 states where voting will be conducted, only six are ruled by the BJP and its allies, while another six have the Congress and its partners in power. The remaining states are ruled by parties not aligned to any of the two sides. Of the 55 seats up for grabs, Maharashtra accounts for the highest vacancies with seven.
The results will be declared on March 30, and the last date of filing of notifications is March 13.
Unlike the Lok Sabha polls, where MPs are elected directly by the people of India, members of legislative assemblies vote to elect Rajya Sabha MPs from their respective states.
The Congress is all set to lose its representation in the Rajya Sabha from the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, while the Telugu Desam Party will retain its lone seat in the Upper House. Andhra’s ruling YSR Congress party, which has 151 members in the 175-member Andhra Pradesh assembly, will walk away with all the four Rajya Sabha seats. In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which has 104 out in 119-member assembly, will win both the RS seats that are falling vacant.
On the 82 seats it has in the Upper House, the BJP will face polls in 15 seats, while the tenure of 12 Congress Rajya Sabha MPs will end. Four members each of the Trinamool Congress and AIADMK are set to retire, as are three MPs from Janata Dal (United), and two each from the Biju Janata Dal, TRS and Nationalist Congress Party. The tenures of one member each of Shiv Sena, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Bodo People’s Front, Rashtriya Janata Dal, TDP, and DMK, will end.
The BJP will make gains in the North-east, electing three members from Assam and one from Manipur. In Meghalaya, the ruling National People’s Party, a BJP ally, will send one member to the Upper House. The BJP will also send two members from Maharashtra and Gujarat, one each from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.
The Congress, which is losing all its seats from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, is looking at gaining two members each from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and one each from Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana.
Sanjay Kumar, director at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies said that the change will not impact either the ruling BJP or the Opposition parties. “Overall, there is not much affect on either side. As for passing a bill or getting votes in its favour, the BJP does not need to worry much. There might be a moral impact on the leadership, but no electoral consequences as such,” he said.