by Elton Gomes
The opposition has another platform to showcase its unity. After the no-confidence motion was defeated by the NDA government, the opposition has an opportunity to regroup again when the elections to appoint the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson will take place on Thursday.
The NDA currently is in minority in the Upper House and will be keen to have a candidate of its choice for the elections, as it would help the Centre in passing crucial legislation with less than a year left for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
The post of deputy chairperson in the Rajya Sabha had been lying vacant since June after the retirement of P.J. Kurien, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha on a Congress ticket from Kerala. The current strength of the Rajya Sabha stands at 244, and support of 123 members will be required for a win in the full house.
The process of electing the deputy chairperson
Any MP (member of parliament) in the Rajya Sabha can submit a motion proposing the name of a colleague for the position of deputy chair. This motion has to be seconded by another MP. The member moving the motion also has to submit a declaration signed by the MP whose name has been proposed for the deputy chair’s position. The motion states that the proposed MP is willing to serve as deputy chairperson if elected. Only one motion can be moved or seconded by each MP.
Congress lawmaker B.K. Hariprasad will be the opposition’s candidate for the deputy chair elections, while the NDA’s nominee will be Harivansh Narayan Singh of the Janata Dal (United) (JDU).
The Congress decided to field its nominee as the opposition’s joint candidate after other parties in UPA refused to nominate their members. Expressing his views on the development, Hariprasad told news agency ANI: “The party (Congress) must have taken this decision after a lot of thinking. We will talk to all the opposition leaders and discuss what is to be done,” NDTV reported.
Initially, Sharad Pawar’s NCP had planned on fielding Vandana Chavan as the opposition’s candidate, but backed out last evening after Naveen Patnaik hinted that his party would not support her candidature. The NCP said that it needed support from both Shiv Sena and the BJD (Biju Janata Dal).
The NDA government will be hoping to garner support from the AIADMK, Chandrashekar Rao’s TRS party, and Naveen Patnaik, which will give it 123 votes. A candidate needs 123 votes to win in the 244-strong member house. However, abstention could lower the majority mark. If the Shiromani Akali Dal (3 seats), Shiv Sena (3 seats), and BJD (9 seats) abstain from voting, NDA numbers could be reduced to 108, while the majority mark will be at 115.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.