Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday set in motion the process of election of Deputy Chairman of the Upper House, even as the Opposition parties are yet to begin formal discussions on fielding a candidate.
Mr. Naidu, according to sources, had a meeting with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Tuesday to discuss possible dates of the election. The office of Deputy Chairman falls vacant on July 2 with incumbent P.J. Kurien retiring from the post.
It’s a knotty problem for both the BJP and the Opposition parties. The Opposition has 115 members while the ruling BJP, along with its allies, has 104. The key, however, is with 17 undecided members belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (six), YSR Congress Party (two) and Biju Janata Dal (nine).
The TRS and the YSRCP have been warming to the ruling dispensation. TRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, after initial noises about building a federal front, has been keeping away from every Opposition meet. He skipped the swearing-in ceremony of Janata Dal(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister of Karnataka.
The entire Opposition had attended the ceremony in a show of strength.
Last week, he was in the capital for over four days to attend the governing council meeting of NITI Aayog, but he did not meet his counterparts.
The other problem for the Opposition is that regional parties such as the Trinamool Congress do not want to be dictated to by the Congress.
Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee, along with Telugu Desam Party supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, have already started parallel discussions.
Opposition teams up
After talks on Saturday night, Ms. Banerjee, Mr. Naidu, Mr. Kumaraswamy and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan went to meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The Congress has maintained a studied silence all along. According to sources, when many Opposition leaders tried reaching out to strategists like Ahmed Patel, they were assured that discussions will happen soon, without actually giving any time frame.The key, however, lies with BJD: whoever they ally with will win this battle.
Under the procedure prescribed, any member may give notice in writing addressed to the Secretary-General, before noon on the day before the election date, of a motion that another member may be chosen as Deputy Chairman. This notice shall be accompanied by a statement by the member whose name is proposed in the notice that he is willing to serve as Deputy Chairman, if elected.
The motions which have been moved and duly seconded will be put one by one in the order in which they have been moved and decided if necessary by division.