BJP's two-pronged strategy to shore up RS numbers

BJP's two-pronged strategy to shore up RS numbers

(PTI Photo)

 When Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Assam Sanjay Sinh, the erstwhile Raja from Amethi quit on Tuesday, he was the seventh Opposition party MP in the Upper House to come to the aid of BJP within the last two months, increasing the saffron party's footprint in the Upper House when the ruling alliance is short of numbers.

BJP, which had 73 MPs in Rajya Sabha when it came to power for the second time with a thumping majority in Lok Sabha, has increased its tally to 78 with direct induction of four Rajya Sabha MPs from TDP and lone MP from INLD, Ram Kumar Kashyap in June.

More than that, the BJP has managed to reduce the total strength of Rajya Sabha to 240 as on Tuesday, after the resignation of Sanjay Sinh.

The Rajya Sabha tenure of Sinh was to end in 2020. So is the case of former Prime Minister late Chandra Shekhar’s son Neeraj Shekhar, who resigned as Rajya Sabha member of Samajwadi Party on July 15.

Both are likely to be nominated as Rajya Sabha MPs by BJP from Uttar Pradesh, when by-polls will be held for 10 seats there in November 2020.

There is a buzz that some Rajya Sabha members from UP—mainly from SP and BSP are in touch with BJP and they may also quit as and when signaled. Former Samajwadi Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal, who had quit SP and joined the BJP in 2018, has also been maintaining that more members from SP are in touch with BJP.

Of the ten RS seats in UP falling vacant in 2020, nine were held by Opposition parties but with Assembly strength now in favour of the BJP, the saffron party can win nine of these seats there.

BJP, which despite its thumping majority in Lok Sabha after 2019 general elections, has found itself on a sticky wicket in passing legislations in Rajya Sabha. Of late, it has begun working on this two-pronged strategy—to shore up its number in Upper House as well reducing the over-all membership of Rajya Sabha to bring down the majority mark.

By May-end, BJP had 72 MPs in Rajya Sabha in the 245-member House. Now, it is 78 in 240-member House.  

In the first week of July, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. Another BJP candidate, Jugal Thakor was also elected.

The two seats had fallen vacant after the resignation of BJP chief Amit Shah from Rajya Sabha, after he was elected from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat earlier represented by L K Advani and the resignation of Smirti Irani, who won from the Amethi Lok Sabha seat.

NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan was elected unopposed to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Patna vacated by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who had resigned after winning the Patna Saheb Lok Sabha seat.

Earlier in June, BJP nominee Ashwini Vaishnav won a Rajya Sabha seat from Odisha, after vacancy arose when a BJD Rajya Sabha member resigned after winning a Lok Sabha seat.