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Explained | How are Members of Parliament elected to Rajya Sabha?

If a candidate secures the required quota of votes, they are elected. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed based on the subsequent preferences indicated by the voters. This process continues until all seats are filled.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 06:39 IST

As Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) begin casting their votes to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) for 15 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh, parties across the political spectrum are vigilant over cross-voting.

This biennial election for the Upper House of Parliament is unique in a way, as 41 of the 56 candidates have already secured their seats "unopposed." The BJP has fielded eight candidates in UP, while the Samajwadi Party has three contesting the RS polls this year. Both the BJP and SP have numbers to send seven and three members respectively unopposed to the Upper House.

Of the total 15 seats, 10 are in UP, four are in Karnataka, while one seat is in Himachal Pradesh. The tussle for prospective MPs in Karnataka became interesting with Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Dr Kupendra Reddy's entry — who is the fifth contender to contest for the four RS seats in the state.

Let us take a brief look at how these MPs are elected to the Rajya Sabha.

Firstly, as per the Constitution of India, the number of MPs in the Rajya Sabha cannot exceed 250. Currently, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament has 245 members comprising 233 members who are elected from states and Union Territories (UT), while the President of India nominates the other 12 members from the disciplines of art, literature, science, and social services.

How are MPs elected to the Upper House?

The voting process in Rajya Sabha follows a single transferable vote (STV) system through an open ballot, wherein each MLA is allowed to vote once, and the same is counted. Every vote cast by the MLAs is counted only once. While a party having a majority in Lok Sabha might send more MPs to Rajya Sabha, this need not be the case always.

During the election, MLAs submit a list of candidates based on their preferences. Votes are then counted, with each MLA's first preference carrying the most weight. If a candidate secures the required quota of votes, they are elected. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed based on the subsequent preferences indicated by the voters. This process continues until all seats are filled.

The number of MPs a party sends to the Rajya Sabha depends on various factors, including the composition of the state assembly and the party's preferences.

A candidate must secure a certain number of votes which is termed as "quota" or as aforementioned — a preference vote. Rajya Sabha members serve a term of six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years to ensure continuity. In the event of a member's death, disqualification, or resignation, by-elections are held to fill the vacant seat.

The Indian Parliament, designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, bears resemblance to the parliamentary model in the United Kingdom. Similar to the House of Lords in the UK, the Rajya Sabha in India comprises members elected indirectly, in contrast to the directly elected members of the Lok Sabha, which resembles the House of Commons in the UK.

The voting today will take place till 4 pm, after which the counting is scheduled.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 06:39 IST)

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