NEW DELHI: With 24 seats in the Rajya Sabha set to go to polls later this month and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) touted to win half of those, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is inching towards the majority mark in Upper House.
In the 245-member Rajya Sabha, BJP is the largest party with 75 members. Its allies–JDU, SAD, Shiv Sena, and RPI-A–take the NDA total to 87. AIADMK, with 9 members, usually backs the ruling combine.
Regional parties like TRS with seven seats, YSRCP two, and BJD nine seats, extend issue-based support to NDA. There are six independents.
BJP leaders have often claimed that the party will claim majority in the House by 2021.
“Any increase in the number of MPs in Rajya Sabha is a reflection of the will of people who have consistently supported the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in different assembly elections. It is the performance of union government and BJP in these states that has helped us win majority members of legislative assemblies that helps win Rajya Sabha elections,” said a senior BJP leader from Rajya Sabha.
The Union government has faced hurdles in pushing through its policy decisions in the Upper House given the collective strength of the Opposition.
The Election Commission on Monday announced voting for 18 Rajya Sabha seats, part of 55 seats announced earlier this year. It also announced elections to six seats, including four from Karnataka.
This will be first such election since outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March and could set the tone for political activity over the next few months.
“The increase in the number is a boost for both BJP and NDA because the Union government has suffered delay and disruption during passage of Bills in Rajya Sabha. This delay and disruption can only be overcome when BJP-NDA will have majority numbers in Upper House,” said the BJP leader.
Senior Congress leaders feel that while Upper House election reflects the strength of state assemblies, they are hopeful that the opposition is making gradual strides to improve its position.
“It is a fact that Congress is not in power in many states and so we have naturally seen reduced numbers in Upper House over the last few years. But our position is improving as we have won new states like Rajasthan and our allies in incumbent state are also gaining strength in Rajya Sabha,” a senior Congress Rajya Sabha MP said requesting anonymity.
While the Opposition is confident of improving its numbers, the real challenge for them is the lack of floor coordination visible in the last session when it comes to taking on the treasury benches. Some of the most crucial bills which saw strong opposition saw passage due to lack of consensus.
Vice president M Venkaiah Naidu, also chairman of the Upper House, had said the Opposition has had an upper hand in the Rajya Sabha for 39 of the 68 years in terms of numbers.