Trinamool MP may be RS deputy chief

Rajya Sabha, PTI file photo

Opposition leaders are likely to meet "informally" this weekend to find a consensus candidate for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson post amid a strong buzz that senior Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy may make the cut.

Keeping larger opposition unity and Lok Sabha elections in mind, the Congress has indicated its willingness to leave the post for an Opposition party and would not insist for its own candidate like it did during the Presidential election when it fielded Meira Kumar.

Sources said the Opposition leaders may have "informal" consultations on Sunday as they are reaching the national capital to attend the farewell organised by Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for outgoing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, who was not re-nominated by the Congress to the Upper House from Kerala.

Trinamool Congress, which has 13 MPs in Rajya Sabha, has been lobbying for Roy, a veteran lawmaker who has earned the respect for his experience and conduct in the House. If Opposition parties choose to nominate Roy, it is to be seen whether the CPM and the CPI would go with the unity bangwagon.

"There are no discussions so far. Let the names come up. Maybe on Sunday, we may have an initial discussion," a senior Opposition leader said. Earlier, there were reports that the Opposition, as well as the BJP, was considering offering the seat to the BJD but it appears that the Naveen Patnaik-led party is keeping equidistant from the Congress and the BJP.

The ruling BJP has also not opened its mind over its choice or on propping up a non-BJP candidate to trump the Opposition.

With PDP (2 MPs) out of NDA and JD(U) with 6 MPs making interesting political noises and talking about looking at the candidate, the numbers are stacked against the ruling NDA in a House of 245, which will have five vacancies on July 1.

The half-way mark will be 123 in case four vacancies of nominated members are filled. The fate of the fifth vacant seat will be decided by the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition filed by rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav.

The BJP, which has 69 MPs, could get 104 votes as on July 1. It could rise to 108 if they decide to nominate four MPs, including one that will become vacant coming Saturday.

In the number game, the Opposition has an upper-hand with 117 votes in its kitty. BJD, TRS, PDP and YSR Congress with a combined strength of 19 MPs have not still opened their are still undecided. Their abstention will only help the Opposition cause.

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