The stage is set for the election of the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson today with both the ruling NDA and the opposition fielding their candidates for the Number 2 post in the Upper House. Also Read - Mamata Banerjee Dares BJP To Arrest Her, Says Will Ensure TMC Victory in Polls From Jail Itself
Today’s election will see a direct contest between NDA’s Harivansh Narayan Singh and opposition nominee B K Hariprasad. Also Read - BJP MLA Vijay Kumar Sinha Elected Speaker of Bihar Assembly by Majority Vote
The ruling NDA has fielded Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh as its candidate and sources in the BJP said on Wednesday that he was expected to get the support of 126 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 MPs. Also Read - Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi Pays Last Respects to Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi
Meanwhile, in what came as a shot in the arm for the ruling party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik extended his party’s support to the NDA candidate.
Having nine MPs in the Upper House, BJD’s support to the JD(U) candidate came after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar spoke to Patnaik.
The BJD will support the JD(U) since the two parties have emerged from the Jay Prakash Narayan movement, while the Congress candidate was the AICC in-charge of Odisha and vitriolic in his statements against the BJD, Patnaik said.
The House currently has 244 members and a candidate will need 123 votes to win. The BJP has 73 members of its own, while the Congress has a strength of 50 members.
Apart from NDA’s 91 votes, Harivansh Singh is also expected to get support of AIADMK (13 MPs), TRS (6), BJD (9), YSRCP (2) and INLD (1), which takes the total count for the NDA candidate to 122.
BJP’s estranged ally Shiv Sena has also decided to support Harivansh Singh’s candidate. The Sena has said it was supporting the NDA candidate as this is an “apolitical” post.
SAD, another ally of the BJP, has also said its three party MPs will vote for the NDA candidate.
On the other hand, the Congress seems to be struggling with the numbers required in the Upper House.
Hariprasad has the support of 61 members of the Congress-led UPA, Trinamool Congress (13), Samajwadi Party (13), TDP (6), CPI-M (5), BSP (4), DMK (4), CPI (2) and JDS (1), which takes its number to 109 – 14 less than the minimum required mark.
One nominated and one independent member will also support the candidature of Hariprasad, sources in the opposition said. This would take the expected opposition total to about 111, they said.
Meanwhile, BJP sources claim that some MPs from the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the RJD are likely to be absent or abstain from the voting.
However, the Congress on Wednesday claimed the opposition has a ‘formidable and better candidate’ in its three-time MP B K Hariprasad with numbers on his side and accused the government of using every tactic to swing the poll.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the NDA does not have the majority in Rajya Sabha, else the BJP would have fielded its own candidate. He accused the ruling coalition of going “well beyond” its fold to get the votes.
Meanwhile, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party said it will boycott the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson polls.
The party said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal rejected his Bihar counterpart and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar’s request to support the NDA nominee, Harivansh Narayan Singh, in the election as he has the backing of the BJP.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh said that since Congress President Rahul Gandhi has not sought AAP’s support for the opposition’s candidate, the Kejriwal-led party “has no option but to boycott the poll”.