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All eyes on rare contest to elect Rajya Sabha's deputy chairman

August 07, 2018 12:34 IST

The election to the post is mostly decided by consensus, but opposition leaders complain that the Narendra Modi government was yet to reach out to them, reports Archis Mohan.

The stage is set for a rare contest to elect the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Given the numbers of the ruling alliance and the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, with neither side currently commanding a majority, the election is set to be a close one.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance has picked Janata Dal-United MP Harivansh Narayan Singh as its candidate. Leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties held a meeting on Monday and agreed that they will be fielding a common candidate.

 

After consulting their respective party leaderships, Opposition Rajya Sabha leaders will meet again on Tuesday afternoon to decide on their candidate.

At the meeting, the Congress leadership conveyed to other parties that it would be willing to support a candidate from one of the regional parties.

An Opposition leader, who attended the meeting, termed it “speculation” that the Opposition parties were considering as its candidate Tiruchi Siva of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Nationalist Congress Party’s Vandana Chavan and nominated member K T S Tulsi.

By announcing the name of JD-U’s Harivansh, a first-time parliamentarian, the BJP has attempted to reach out to its allies who have been upset with the party for not accommodating their concerns.

The BJP-led NDA doesn’t have a majority in the Rajya Sabha. To win, the BJP would need to convince fence-sitters like the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telangana Rashtra Samiti, YSR Congress Party and Biju Janata Dal to vote in favour of its candidate. The Opposition ranks have been bolstered after the Telugu Desam Party parted ways with the BJP. It is also not known which way the Shiv Sena MPs might vote.

The election to the deputy chairman is mostly decided by consensus, but opposition leaders complained that the Narendra Modi government was yet to reach out to them. The post has been lying vacant for over a month after P J Kurien retired.

On Monday afternoon, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu announced the schedule of election for the office of the deputy chairman. At the start of the ongoing monsoon session, Naidu had urged both the government and the Opposition to reach a consensus.

On Monday, Naidu spoke to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad before announcing the election schedule.

IMAGE: Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu on Monday announced the election to the post will be held on August 9. Photograph: PTI Photo
Archis Mohan in New Delhi
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