BJP, Oppn brace for stand-off over RS dy charimanship

Congress' refusal to renominate Kurien from Kerala to the Upper House has left the ground open for the non-Congress Opposition to stake claim for the post.

With P J Kurien's tenure in the Rajya Sabha ending this month, the BJP and the Opposition are bracing for a face-off in the election for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, where both camps are trying to court the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD.

While the Congress and other Opposition parties are keen to offer the BJD the seat of power in the Upper House, the BJP is also trying to keep the Odisha-based party on its side.

The Trinamool Congress also seemed to be interested in the post.

The BJD's Prasanna Acharya and Trinamool Congress' Sukhendu Shekhar Roy are speculated to be the possible candidates in Opposition circles.

Sources said the Congress has reached out to the BJD with an offer to accommodate its MP as the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman keeping in mind the number game in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha polls.

However, the BJD has not opened its mind on whether it will accept it or not, with a senior BJD leader telling DH that they would prefer to be "equidistant" with the BJP and the Congress.

The move to take the BJD on board comes amid reluctance on the part of some non-Congress Opposition parties to allow the grand old party to retain the post, which will become vacant with Kurien's Rajya Sabha membership ending on June 30.

Congress' refusal to renominate Kurien from Kerala to the Upper House has left the ground open for the non-Congress Opposition to stake claim for the post.

Keeping the larger Opposition unity in mind, the Congress also appeared not averse to leave the post for another party, as it will have just 50 MPs in a House of 245 as on July 1.

Though no formal consultations have started so far, Opposition parties will be meeting shortly to chalk out a strategy.

The BJP, with 69 MPs, is also keeping the cards close to its chest and may checkmate the Opposition strategy by offering the BJD the deputy chairmanship.

The thinking in the BJP is that it should offer the seat to a regional party keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In such a scenario, the BJP could offer the deputy chairmanship to the TRS, Akali Dal, AIADMK or the BJD.

However, the TRS may not make it to the mark as Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu is also a Telugu, while the AIADMK may lose the race as it holds the post of Lok Sabha deputy speaker.

While the Akali Dal is strongly pitching for S S Dhindsa, sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah may spring a surprise by offering the seat to the BJD, which can blunt the Opposition's plans to draw Patnaik to their Opposition fold.

 

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BJP, Oppn brace for stand-off over RS dy charimanship

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