After big election victory, NDA set for Rajya Sabha majority next year
Lok Sabha elections won, it’s now mission Rajya Sabha for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP and the National Democratic Alliance led by it are looking to overcome a minority status in the upper house of parliament — something that scotched the previous NDA government’s efforts to push through key laws.
The NDA’s majority in the Rajya Sabha would help in easy passage of legislations in Parliament, something that has proved to be a major hurdle in recent years. Key bills on issues such as Triple Talaq, the motor vehicles act or amendments to the citizenship act could not be passed as the NDA couldn’t get the requisite numbers.
Unlike Lok Sabha MPs who are elected directly by the people, lawmakers in the Upper House are elected by the MLAs of a state. The more the number of MLAs a party has, the brighter its chances to send more MPs to the upper house. A Rajya Sabha MP has a term of six years while his counterpart in the Lok Sabha faces election every five years. But not everyone in the Rajya Sabha is elected at the same time.
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Last year, the BJP overtook the Congress for the first time in the history of the Upper House; the total number of NDA MPs in the upper house stands at 101 in the 245 seat House. It also enjoys the support of three nominated members, Swapan Dasgupta, Mary Kom and Narendra Jadhav and at least three independent MPs, taking the total tally to 107. KTS Tulsi, a UPA-nominated member, will also retire early next year, giving the NDA a chance to appoint a nominee of its choice.
By November 2020, the NDA government will secure another 19 seats from as many as 14 states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, helping it go past the halfway mark of 123 and get 125 seats, making it the first government to reach majority in the upper house in nearly 15 years. Most of its seats will come from Uttar Pradesh where it has 310 MLAs in the 403-member assembly. It will also gain 6 seats in Tamil Nadu thanks to its new ally the AIADMK, three in Assam, two in Rajasthan and perhaps one in Odisha — the last one with the help of a friendly party, the BJD.
It will also gain one seat each in Karnataka, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand while it will lose seats in states such as Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
A big victory in the Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand assembly polls later this year can further bolster the BJP-led NDA’s lead in the Upper House of Parliament by November 2020. If the NDA reaches the majority mark in 2020, it will get nearly four years in the Rajya Sabha to further its legislative agenda.
Between now and November 2020, 75 Rajya Sabha seats will be up for election.
In the past five years, numbers have proved to be quite a headache for NDA party managers. The amendments to the Land Acquisition Act could not be taken up in the Upper House as nearly all non-NDA parties joined hands to oppose the bill. The bill to criminalize Triple Talaq failed to get Parliament’s clearance as the Opposition didn’t even allow a debate on the bill. On one occasion in 2016, the united Opposition even passed amendments to the President’s speech—a rare but embarrassing proposition for the ruling establishment. The government in fact moved the Aadhaar bill as a money bill to avoid delays in the Rajya Sabha as many Opposition parties were determined.
During the previous UPA-era as well, the much-awaited PFRDA bill and the Insurance law amendments lingered on as the BJP, then the principal Opposition party, didn’t agree to some of its clauses. While the UPA government finally managed to pass the pension fund bill at the fag-end of its tenure, the stalemate over the Insurance bill continued and ultimately the bill got passed after the NDA came to power.
Former parliamentary affairs secretary Afzal Amanullah maintained, that sheer majority might not be enough.
“In the past few years, there is an increasing trend that even a group of 5-6 MPs are capable of stalling proceedings of Parliament. and even if you have majority, bills often get stuck due to disruption from one corner of the House. For the NDA, the next five years will also be a key test in Parliament as it needs to bring many more reforms, but may also face an aggressive Opposition still capable of disrupting the Houses.”
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