by Elton Gomes
On Thursday, NDA candidate and JDU leader Harivansh Narayan Singh was elected as the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Singh won by a margin of 20 votes and received 125 votes in total, as against the opposition’s candidate B.K. Hariprasad who received 105 votes in the House with the majority mark at 119.
A former journalist, Singh became a lawmaker for the first time and is considered close to JDU head Nitish Kumar. Singh’s only stint in politics was during the tenure of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, who selected him as a political adviser.
“I congratulate Harivansh ji on behalf of the whole house. He has been blessed with the talent of writing. He was also a favourite of former PM Chandra Shekhar ji,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Singh, the Times of India reported.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, also extended his congratulations to Singh. “In elections, some on wins and someone loses. But the Deputy Chairman is no longer a part of any single party. He belongs to the country now,” Azad said, as reported by the Indian Express. Azad hoped that Singh will give a fair opportunity to opposition members to raise their issues.
Who is Harivansh Narayan Singh
Born on June 30, 1956, Singh is a first-time MP for the JDU. He hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia and has reportedly completed his education from Banaras Hindu University. Previously, he was a journalist and editor-in-chief of Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar from June 1991 to June 2016.
His association with the high offices in Delhi began during the 1990s when he was appointed additional information adviser, joint secretary to the prime minister’s office (PMO), when veteran socialist leaders such as Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandra Shekhar were prime ministers of the country.
Having socialist moorings, Singh reportedly only uses his first name and avoids his surname as a sign of a caste identity of a person.
Singh’s rise in politics can be attributed to his close links with the JDU and other NDA partners, particularly the BJP. The parliamentarian is equally well connected to Prime Minister Modi as he is with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Singh is known to be an accomplished writer, and has written and edited at least 11 books.
What worked for the NDA
By fielding a JDU candidate, the BJP was attempting to appease its allies in the NDA, who have been complaining of being ignored. The lack of majority seemed to the BJP’s Achilles heel. With the win in the bag, the BJP now has the Rajya Sabha chairman (Venkaiah Naidu) and deputy chairman as its own choices.
The opposition once again failed to make the most of the opportunity. Failure to co-opt Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Andhra Pradesh’s YSR Congress can be said to be significant reasons for the UPA’s loss. Furthermore, not less than 13 lawmakers from five parties had skipped voting due to various reasons. Out of these, 3 belonged to the AAP. Moreover, the BJP-led NDA was present in full strength in the House. However, two member of the Congress – Trinamool and the DMK – remained absent.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.