New Delhi, Aug 6: Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu announced on Monday that the elections for the post of deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha will be held on August 9. The move was necessitated by the retirement of current deputy chairman PJ Kurien on June 30. The current strength of the House stands at 241 so both the ruling NDA and the united Opposition side will require the support of 122 members to see their candidate through. While the Opposition counts on 117 votes, the NDA has around 115 votes. The Opposition is likely to meet later in the day to zero in on a popular candidate. (Also read: Focus on Welfare, Naidu Tells MPs)

Sources in the Congress, as quoted by DNA, said it was willing to bow out of the race and support any candidate of united opposition. The leaders have begun talks with the leaders of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Trinamool Congress (TMC). The BJD has nine members in the Rajya Sabha and the TMC has 13. TMC MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy could be propped up by the united Opposition.

Meanwhile, the BJP might support either the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) or the Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) of Andhra Pradesh. Sources said after the Karnataka debacle, the BJP would try to save face by winning the election for deputy chairman. ANI said Janata Dal (United) leader Harivansh Narayan Singh is likely to be the NDA candidate for the post.

The Rajya Sabha has been the Achilles’ heel for the BJP. Without majority there, it has not been able to push forward its agenda, said DNA. While the ruling party could breathe a little easy with the election of M Venkaiah Naidu as the vice-president, since most of the proceedings are presided over by the deputy chairman, it obviously wants its own candidate at the helm for a smooth sail.