BJD move weakens Opposition bid for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman post

After initial enthusiasm, the Opposition is now staring at imminent defeat with the Biju Janata Dal likely to help NDA nominee.

Updated - November 28, 2021 08:31 am IST

Published - August 08, 2018 11:05 pm IST - New Delhi

NDA nominee Harivansh Narayan Singh and Opposition nominee B.K. Hariprasad

NDA nominee Harivansh Narayan Singh and Opposition nominee B.K. Hariprasad

The Opposition nominee, Congress MP B.K. Hariprasad, and the NDA nominee, JD(U) MP Harivansh Narayan Singh, on Wednesday filed notices for election to the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

The election will be held on Thursday, a day before the monsoon session of Parliament ends.

Loaded ranks

After initial enthusiasm, the Opposition is now staring at imminent defeat with the Biju Janata Dal likely to help NDA nominee Mr. Singh sail through.

According to sources, ahead of the no-confidence motion debate in Lok Sabha last month , Prime Minister Narendra Modi had phoned Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He sought support for both the no-confidence motion debate and the Deputy Chairman election.

Mr. Patnaik it is believed to have conveyed to Mr. Modi that a non-BJP candidate will make it comfortable for them to extend their support. Sources said the party will take a final call on whether to vote in favour of the NDA nominee or abstain from the voting on Thursday morning. The BJD has nine members in the Rajya Sabha.

The BJP has managed to swing the support of disgruntled allies —the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal to vote in their favour. In fact, according to the sources, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut and Akali Dal’s Sardar Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa will be proposing Mr. Singh’s name for the post. BJP’s former ally People’s Democratic Party’s two members are abstaining by bringing down the magic number required for victory.

The Opposition had three meetings to pick a joint nominee. At the last minute, the Nationalist Congress Party withdrew their candidate Vandana Chavan after it learned of BJD’s support to the NDA. “Every party threw in the towel and the Congress was the only one left, so we told them to pick a candidate of their choice. As far as numbers are concerned, Congress is doing the calculations,” Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav told The Hindu .

After giving the notices, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma claimed that the numbers were in their favour. He said the Opposition had to contest the post as things were “not right” in the Rajya Sabha.

BJP’s erstwhile ally, the Telugu Desam Party are firmly supporting the Opposition. Former Union Minister Y.S. Chowdary will be one of the proposers of Mr. Singh. “We are not supporting Mr. Hariprasad as a Congress candidate, we are supporting him as an Opposition candidate. He is a capable person who represents the interests of backward classes,” Mr. Chowdary told The Hindu .

The Aam Aadmi Party’s support though no longer is certain for the Opposition with a Congress candidate. “Congress party takes AAP for granted. If Rahul Gandhi asks AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal for party’s vote then we will support them, else we are not interested in voting in their support,” MP Sanjay Singh said. AAP has three members in the Upper House.

The Opposition ranks will be further whittled down with the death of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam patriarch M. Karunanidhi. It is likely that the four DMK members may not be able to participate in the election.

The post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman has been lying vacant since the retirement of P.J. Kurien on July 1.

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