With the expected support of more than half the members of the Upper House, the ruling National Democratic Alliance's Harivansh seems to have a numerical edge over the opposition's B K Hariprasad in the election for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman to be held on Thursday.
Harivansh, a Janata Dal-United MP, is likely to get the support of 126 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 MPs, sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party said.
His rival in the elections, Congress MP Hariprasad, is likely to end up with about 111 votes, sources in the party said.
According to the calculations of BJP floor managers, Harivansh will get the backing of 91 members of the NDA, three nominated and erstwhile Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh.
He also has the votes of some non-NDA parties -- All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (13 members), Biju Janata Dal (nine), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (six), Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (two) and Indian National Lok Dal (one) -- adding up to 126.
Harivansh on Wednesday met the BJD's Rajya Sabha members in parliament and sought their support for the election, while Hariprasad had still not approached them.
Confirming his party's support for Harivansh, BJD chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in the evening, "Nitish Kumar has spoken to me. We will be supporting JD-U candidate for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections."
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had earlier reached out to the opposition and met Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad for a consensus.
Hariprasad has the support of 61 MPs of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, 13 members each of the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party, six MPs of the Telugu Desam Party, five of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, four each from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, two of the Communist Party of India and one MP of the Janata Dal-Secular, adding up to 109 members.
One nominated and one independent member will also support the candidature of Hariprasad, sources in the opposition said. This would take the expected opposition total to about 111, they said.
The arithmetic could change with the death of DMK chief Karunanidhi and uncertainty whether the party's MPs, including his daughter Kanimozhi, would travel to Delhi for the election.
The People's Democratic Party, which has two MPs, has declared it is abstaining.
Aam Aadmi Party has decided to ‘boycott’ the election, according to party MP Sanjay Singh.
Singh said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal rejected Nitish Kumar's request to support the NDA nominee.
He said that since Congress president Rahul Gandhi has not sought AAP’s support for the Opposition's candidate, the Kejriwal-led party ‘has no option but to boycott the poll tomorrow (on Thursday)’.
“If they (the Congress) ask for our vote, we will oblige. It is meaningless to vote compulsively (for the Congress), if they do not need it,” Singh told reporters.
Later, he tweeted: ‘Nitish Kumar ji spoke to Arvind Kejriwal ji, seeking support for JD-U candidate. Since he is a BJP-backed nominee, it is not possible to support him. Rahul Gandhi ji does not want support for his candidate... then AAP has no option, but to boycott the poll.’
There are other imponderables with several smaller parties not declaring their intention.
The candidates filed their nominations today for the election scheduled to take place around 11 am on Wednesday.