New Delhi: The BJP will lose three seats after the 26 March Rajya Sabha elections, but the marginal losses are not likely to affect the ruling party’s effectiveness in the Upper House of Parliament.
Elections to 55 seats will be held in 17 states on 26 March. Of these, 51 seats fall vacant in April while four members have already resigned.
Of the 55 seats, 15 are held by the BJP. The party is likely to win back only 12 of the seats — it is sure to lose two in the Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and one in Bihar, where it is in power in a coalition government.
The Congress, on the other hand, holds 11 of the seats but its tally will reduce to nine as two of its seats are in the BJP-ruled states of Himachal and Haryana.
The elections will marginally reduce the BJP’s numbers from 82 to 79 in the current 239-member Rajya Sabha (six seats are vacant).
However, even with the diminished numbers, the BJP and its NDA allies — AIADMK, JD(U), Shiromani Akali Dal, Asom Gana Parishad, the Bodoland People’s Front, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and the Republican Party of India (A) — will have 107 members in the Upper House. The NDA also has the support of four independents and three nominated MPs.
And with ‘friendly opposition parties’ such as the YSRCP, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Naga People’s Front and the BJD, the BJP can breach the 125 mark, a comfortable position to pass any bill.
Things will change only in 2022, when elections to the Upper House will be predominantly held in Opposition-ruled states.
A reason to worry after 2022
The BJP’s losses in March will be offset in June and November when Rajya Sabha polls will be held in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, respectively.
Elections will be held for 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh and four in Karnataka. In UP, the BJP will gain five seats and one in Karnataka. That will take the BJP’s tally to 85 by the end of the year.
“If we lose two to three seats in April, we will make gains in Karnataka in June and in Uttar Pradesh in November,” a BJP general secretary told ThePrint. “We have passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, Article 370 and Triple Talaq bills. So, there should be no confusion on our numbers,” said the leader, who did not wish to be named.
In 2021, 11 seats will fall vacant, including three in Kerala, one in Puducherry and four in Jammu and Kashmir. But it is unlikely to change the Rajya Sabha equations much.
There may, however, be significant changes in 2022, when Rajya Sabha elections will be held for 68 seats, excluding seven in the nominated category. The BJP will only have a reason to worry then, particularly if the opposition gains ground in assembly elections to be held in Assam, West Bengal, Punjab, UP, Tamil Nadu (if the NDA constituent AIADMK loses), Uttarakhand, and Bihar in the next two years.
Equation in the states
Of the states headed for Rajya Sabha polls on 26 March, Maharashtra will have the highest vacancies of seven. While the state’s two seats each are with the BJP and the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena have one seat each. Prominent retiring MPs include NCP chief Sharad Pawar, party leader Majid Memon, the RPI’s Ramdass Athawale, Husain Dalwai of the Congress, and Videocon chairman Rajkumar Dhoot (Shiv Sena).
The Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena coalition is expected to win the maximum number of seats, but the BJP will retain its two.
After Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu will have the most vacancies with six seats. Of these six, four are with the ruling AIADMK, and one each is with the DMK and the CPI(M). The AIADMK is likely to retain all four of its MPs, keeping its strength in the Rajya Sabha at 11.
There will be five vacancies in West Bengal, of which four seats are with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and one is an independent. The ruling TMC is expected to retain its four seats while the CPI(M) may end up with the other, if it decides to field Sitaram Yechury and gets help from the Congress.
In Bihar, of the five seats set to get vacant, three are with the JD(U) and two with the BJP. But in view of the assembly numbers, both the JD(U) and the BJP will lose one seat each. The Congress and the RJD will gain a seat each, with the latter looking to send former CM Rabri Devi to the Rajya Sabha.
The BJP has two seats in Madhya Pradesh but will lose one as the Congress has a majority in the state assembly. The Congress, which has one of the seats in Madhya Pradesh, will add one more to its tally. The names of senior leaders such as Jyotiraditya Scindia and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are being floated for the seat.
There will be four vacant seats in Gujarat, of which three are with the BJP and one is with the Congress. The Congress is sure of winning one and the BJP two, while there may be a tough contest for the fourth one.
In Jharkhand, the ruling JMM will get one seat while the Congress can also bag one if independents and the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) back the party. Otherwise, independents backed by the BJP can secure a seat.
YSRCP among biggest gainers
The YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh will be among the biggest gainers in the 26 March elections. The party is expected to win all four seats that will go vacant, increasing its tally in the Rajya Sabha from two to six.
Of the four seats going to polls in Odisha, two are with the BJD, while the Congress holds one seat and the other is vacant. The Congress is likely to lose one while the BJP does not have the numbers but can get one with the support of the BJD.
The BJP will also add one seat each in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana where the Congress’ Viplove Thakur and Kumari Selja are retiring.
The BJP could also win two of the three vacant seats in Assam, with the other likely to go to ally Bodoland People’s Front. It is likely to take the lone seat in Manipur.
The ruling party, however, will lose one seat in Chhattisgarh, which is with the Congress. It will also lose a seat in Telangana, where the TRS is expected to win both seats headed to the polls.