Rajya Sabha election sees opposition parties join hands to counter BJP, could set stage for 2019
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is the incumbent in 24 of the 59 Rajya Sabha seats, and will win 10 more, taking its tally to 86 in the 245-member Upper House.india Updated: Mar 10, 2018 22:14 IST
The March 23 elections to 59 Rajya Sabha seats from 17 states is prompting several opposition parties to come together to fight the dominant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a move that some analysts say bodes well for the Lok Sabha elections of 2019. Others point out that parties have always been more amenable for “arrangements” in elections to the upper house than those to the lower house.
Already, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has announced her party’s support for the Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi from West Bengal, and the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) have indicated their support for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is the incumbent in 24 of the 59 seats, and will win 10 more, taking its tally to 86 in the 245-member Upper House, where the halfway mark is 123.
Nominated members – cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, actor Rekha and businesswoman Anu Agha – will also retire in April.
Out of the five Rajya Sabha seats from West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress is assured of four. It has a significant role in deciding the fifth. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is certain to win eight out of the 10 seats while the BSP and the SP are assured of one each. The SP has nominated Bollywood actor Jaya Bachchan.
Similarly in Bihar, where six Rajya Sabha seats are up for the taking, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) , which is assured of two, is supporting the Congress on one seat. The Janata Dal (United) is assured of two and the BJP, one.
In Jharkhand, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has pledged its support to the Congress for one seat; the state’s ruling BJP is certain to win the other seat from the tribal state. The deal between the Congress and the JMM was sealed after JMM leader Hemant Soren met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi last week.
The Sharad Yadav faction of the Janata Dal (United), or JD (U), in Kerala has decided to nominate its state chief MP Veerendra Kumar, who has been assured support by the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front. The Congress-led United Democratic Front is unlikely to field a candidate.
Since there is a dispute over the party flag and the name at the national level with the matter pending before the Delhi high court, the 82-year-old leader will file his nomination papers as an independent. He resigned from the upper house of Parliament to protest JD(U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s move to join hands with the BJP.
Political experts say it is imperative for the opposition parties to come together to defeat the BJP. “A realisation has dawned upon the opposition parties that if they don’t hang together, they will hang separately. And if their strategy works and achieves results in the upcoming elections, there is no reason why they won’t persist with that in 2019,” said political analyst Balveer Arora.
In Karnataka, the ruling Congress is certain to win two out of the four Rajya Sabha seats. The Janata Dal (Secular), or JD (S), of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda has sought the Congress’ support on one seat. The BJP is assured of the fourth. It remains to be seen if chief minister Siddaramaiah, a former member of the JD(S), will agree; Karnataka Congress leaders are of the view that the move to support the JD(S) could be exploited by the BJP, which could play it up as a tacit understanding between the two parties for the upcoming assembly elections.
“Any truck with the JD(S) will consolidate the anti-Congress votes and help the BJP as it happened in Tripura,” a Karnataka Congress leader said on condition of anonymity. “The chief minister is well aware of this and hence it seems unlikely that he will offer any support to the JD(S) candidate.”
The Congress will win two of the four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat. The names of technocrat and head of the Congress party’s overseas department Sam Pitroda and general secretary Deepak Babaria are doing the rounds as possible candidates from the state.