Members of the Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, where they outnumber MPs from the ruling National Democratic Alliance, have begun the first moves to work towards floor coordination, sources told The Hindu .
In these efforts Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who became an RS MP in April this year after seven terms in the Lok Sabha, has taken the lead.
Informed sources said the Opposition parties, with the Congress heading the table with 67 MPs, could form a bloc of close to 140 MPs in the Upper House.
Mr. Pawar has already got in touch with the CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and the Janata Dal (United)’s K.C. Tyagi, both members of the Upper House. The NCP has five MPs, the CPI(M) and the JD(U) have nine each in the Rajya Sabha. These leaders are also in touch with Mukul Roy of the Trinamool Congress, which has 12 MPs in the Upper House.
Other political parties that these leaders hope will come together on a secular platform within the House are the Bahujan Samaj Party (14), the Samajwadi Party (9), the DMK (4), the CPI (2), the National Conference (2), the Kerala Congress-Mani (1), the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (1), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (1) and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (1).
For the moment, these efforts will not be directed towards the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal, the sources said, as they are not sure whether they would be willing to ally themselves with an Opposition bloc.
The Opposition parties are keen to present a united phalanx in the Rajya Sabha as the BJP-led NDA’s overwhelming numbers in the Lok Sabha will mean that it can get any legislation passed through the House without having to depend on the Opposition. In the Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, the ruling coalition will have to negotiate with the Opposition on every Bill.
On May 24, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, after being elected the Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson, had said, “Our strength in the Lok Sabha may be small, but we are still the largest party in the Rajya Sabha. Together, the CPP is still a formidable group and can function as a formidable Opposition.” More significantly, she had stressed, “And we can and will work together with like-minded parties to strengthen the watchful role of the parliamentary opposition.”