Editorial

Upper hand: On BJP’s push to control Rajya Sabha

The BJP won two consecutive majorities in the Lok Sabha but still stands short of one in the Rajya Sabha. But it is, along with its partners, making a gradual upward climb, though the halfway mark is still some distance away. A string of losses in State elections in recent years slowed down its pursuit and there are more State polls in the near future that will influence its fortunes. The BJP is currently the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha with 75 members. Together with its allies, including the nominated and independent members, the tally hovers around 102 in a house of 245. The Congress is perhaps at its lowest tally, with 39 members. The Congress and its friendly parties count to 73, which includes Left parties (6), TMC (13), SP (8), NCP (4) and one each of JD (S), IUML and Kerala Congress (Mani). These numbers are fluid as parties have hopped sides depending on issues. Another cohort of parties that largely favour the ruling dispensation include the Biju Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), TDP and TRS. On June 19, elections will take place for 24 Rajya Sabha seats — only part of existing vacancies — across 10 States, and the ruling party appears to be on an overdrive to maximise its numbers.

The lack of a majority in the Rajya Sabha was considered a hindrance for the BJP in the first term, particularly for economic reforms. The party devised a dubious route to bypass the Upper House in lawmaking by arbitrarily labelling bills as money bills that need approval only by the Lok Sabha. The constitutional validity of this blatant approach was challenged in the Supreme Court, where the case is now lingering. The BJP has managed to muster the numbers in the Rajya Sabha for controversial laws that advance its social and political agenda in its second term. Last July, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed despite opposition to some of the provisions from NDA allies, the JD(U) and AIADMK. The Triple Talaq Bill as it is popularly known, sailed through as parties such as the BSP conveniently went missing during the vote. The government could also get the numbers to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The BJP has been relentlessly chiselling away at the Opposition ranks, meanwhile. On August 5 last year, as the Centre moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, Congress chief whip Bhubaneshwar Kalita was nowhere to be seen. He resigned and has since found his way back to the Rajya Sabha on the BJP ticket. The TDP lost four of its six members and Samajwadi Party, three over the last year. The BJP also has a younger bench in the house of the elders compared to the Congress. It is not that the lack of a majority has stopped the BJP from doing what it was determined to. Still, the party is leaving no stone unturned to win a majority for itself and partners.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 7:24:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/upper-hand-the-hindu-editorial-on-bjps-push-to-control-rajya-sabha/article31774310.ece

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