A suitable non-Congress candidate from a regional party could help influence even some of the NDA allies like the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal-United to vote for a consensus Opposition candidate, reports Archis Mohan.
Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the Opposition are gearing up for yet another battle: To elect the successor of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien.
The election will also be a test of Opposition unity as well as the efforts by some regional parties to give shape to a ‘federal front’.
Currently, the Rajya Sabha has 241 members with four vacancies.
Three of these vacancies are for candidates to be nominated by the President.
They are likely to be filled up by the time the monsoon session begins on July 18.
If this happens, the strength of the House will become 244.
Kurien retires from the Rajya Sabha early next month.
On paper, the combined opposition has the numbers to elect a deputy chairperson of its choice.
It has 116 MPs, with the majority mark being 123 in the 244-member House.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, including the 13 candidates from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has a strength of 108.
Several regional parties, with significant presence in the Rajya Sabha, are unwilling to support a Congress member for the post.
Biju Janata Dal with nine MPs, Telangana Rashtra Samiti with six, Peoples’ Democratic Party (2), Indian National Lok Dal (1) and YSR Congress (2) constitute a group of ‘neutral’ parties whose support to the BJP-led NDA would swing the balance in favour of the ruling alliance.
But sources in the Opposition camp said a suitable non-Congress candidate from a regional party could help influence even some of the NDA allies like the Shiv Sena (3) and the Janata Dal-United to vote for a consensus Opposition candidate.
Some opposition parties are trying to convince the Congress to agree to a candidate who is a non-Congress senior member of the House.
The Telugu Desam Party, TRS and Trinamool Congress also believe an effective ‘federal front’ of regional parties would convince the Congress to support their candidates.
The Trinamool Congress has suggested the name of Sukhendu Sekhar Roy as a possible candidate.