NDA's Harivansh wins RS deputy chairman polls

NDA's Harivansh wins RS deputy chairman polls

JD(U) MP Harivansh. ANI photo

The NDA candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh on Thursday trounced joint Opposition candidate B K Hariprasad of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman elections.

While the JD(U)'s Harivansh got 125 votes, Hariprasad got 105. Two YSR Congress MPs, who had said on Wednesday that they will vote for Hariprasad, abstained while three AAP MPs did not come for voting in protest against Congress president Rahul Gandhi who did not call their leader Arvind Kejriwal as demanded by them.

The NDA, which had the support of 109 MPs, got the support of six TRS, nine BJD and one INLD MP. Union minister Arun Jaitley, who is recuperating from a kidney replacement surgery, came to Parliament for the first time to vote in the election. 

The Opposition plans to upset the NDA went for a toss on Wednesday night after the BJD announced its support to Harivansh. The BJP's decision to field the JD(U) leader gave Patnaik room for pledging support of his nine MPs, nullifying the Congress' plea to abstain from voting.

If it was a BJP candidate, it would have been difficult for Patnaik to offer support and the saffron party quickly tweaked its strategy to field the JD(U) leader by bypassing claims of a long-standing ally Akali Dal, which was upset over the decision. However, the Akali Dal did not up the ante and voted for Harivansh.

Socialist history helps

Harivansh's socialist history also helped the BJP to garner support from the INLD and the BJD, which are at loggerheads with the saffron party in Haryana and Odisha. The TRS, which initially showed an inclination for a Federal Front mooted by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, also quickly joined the ruling side.

For the NDA and the BJP, the results and the BJD's support gave an opportunity to display its political manoeuvring capabilities ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of smaller parties who could join the Opposition bandwagon.

However, the Opposition said the results were expected after the BJD's decision and claimed it exposed Patnaik more than their vulnerabilities. "We know there are CBI, ED and other agencies. We know it has been misused. So people will support," a senior Opposition leader said.

The NDA sources said the top BJP leadership did the spadework much before the election schedule was announced on Monday. An Opposition leader claimed the opponent ensured numbers and only then it came up with the date. 

The Opposition also got a jolt when the AAP played the hardball saying they will vote for Hariprasad only if Rahul calls Kejriwal. The AAP did not come for voting. The YSR Congress, which said it will vote for Hariprasad, also made a U-turn on Thursday morning by abstaining.

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