Watch: RS deputy chair battle: NDA scores over UPA again
The National Democratic Alliance’s candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh of the Janata Dal(United) was on Thursday elected as the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha as he defeated opposition’s BK Hariprasad by 20 votes. Congratulating Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “He has been blessed with the talent of writing. He was also a favourite of former PM Chandra Shekhar ji...now, we are all Hari bharose” (now we all depend on him). Harivansh, a first-timer in the Upper House and a former editor of Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar, got the support of 125 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 MPs, and United Progressive Alliance’s Hariprasad got 105 votes, news agency ANI reported. The proceeding to elect a new deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha began with the NDA moving four motions for its candidate and the opposition moving five for Hariprasad. The position fell vacant after PJ Kurien retired in July. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Harivansh after he was elected as the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. The NDA was confident of winning the post despite not having the numbers in the Upper House amid widening fractures in the opposition camp. Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had promised to support Singh in the election after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the Odisha chief minister on the phone in the third sign in recent weeks of a new warmth in the otherwise frosty, even hostile, relationship with the BJP. “Biju Janata Dal is supporting the JD(U) since JD(U) and BJD have similar ideological origins emerging from the Jay Prakash Narayan movement. The Congress candidate was AICC in-charge of Odisha till recently and was vitriolic in his statements against the BJD and the state,” a BJD statement said on Thursday. Patnaik on Tuesday turned down Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s request for support to the opposition’s candidate in the election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, telling him that he had already told Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar that he would support Harivansh. Harivansh also has the support of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), after JD(U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar called up TRS leader and Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao on Tuesday. The Congress had a tough time getting other opposition parties to rally behind its candidate and was involved in hectic last-minute parleys with regional parties in securing an ‘anti-BJP front’ inside the House. Several parties said before the election started that they will abstain and boycott the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election. “We have decided to abstain from the voting for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s election. Both the Congress and BJP have not fulfilled the promises made to Andhra Pradesh,” YSR Congress MP V Vijayasai Reddy was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has said it will “boycott” the election.