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Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election: Has BJP upset its oldest ally SAD or is it appeasing JD(U)?

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The election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman is set to take place Thursday, and there is palpable tension in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The BJP has decided to back the candidature of JD(U)’s Harivansh Singh over SAD’s Naresh Gujral, whose name was also in contention. The Akali Dal leaders are scheduled to have a meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter.

ThePrint asks- Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election: Has BJP upset its oldest ally SAD or is it appeasing JD(U)?

Akali Dal leadership is perfectly in sync with BJP

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe
Rajya Sabha MP, BJP

There is not an iota of doubt that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is going to win hands down in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections. The entire NDA, all the parties included, is on board with us. Even the Akali leadership is perfectly in sync with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

These are just rumours about allies being upset. How would I know why they are being spread? You must find that out. There is nothing of the sort, no problems between the parties.

I rubbish the allegations of appeasement. The election of deputy chairman is a democratic process. Our candidate has merit, and everyone recognises that. People have confidence in Harivansh Narayan Singh of Janata Dal (United), he’s a veteran.

Also read: Has BJP’s big brother attitude damaged NDA beyond repair?

JD(U), SAD are the only two allies left, Shiv Sena takes its own decisions

K.C. Tyagi
Spokesperson, JD(U) and Rajya Sabha MP

In the National Democratic Alliance, BJP is the largest party. They have backed JD(U)’s Harivansh Narayan Singh. They fully support his candidature. He is a very senior journalist, and has experience in politics.

We have to remember, in an alliance, the say of the largest party holds weight. It’s not as if the Akali Dal, or the JD(U) take such decisions by themselves. It is common practice in politics that multiple people will want the same post. Naresh Gujral is a very senior Akali leader. It is only obvious that he would want the post of deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha.

The Akalis have not yet made a decisive statement on the issue. Perhaps we would have felt bad too if they had chosen an Akali leader. But one has to agree with the decision of the alliance.

JD(U) and SAD are the only two allies left in any case. Shiv Sena takes its own decision now.

Our parties have been very friendly throughout. As a matter of fact, Nitish Kumar and Parkash Singh Badal have great respect and mutual affection for each other. From our end, there is no issue and we hope that there isn’t one from theirs either.

Also read: Can the Shiv Sena be in the opposition and government at the same time?

BJP-SAD differences show emerging contradictions in NDA coalition

Dr Sandeep Shastri
Pro Vice-Chancellor, JAIN – A Deemed to be University

Four years into power and as it approaches the next elections, the BJP is finally facing the heat from its allies. The NDA allies are flexing their muscles and asserting their presence. The protest by the Akali Dal on being overlooked by the BJP while finalising the nominee for the deputy chairman in favour of the JD(U) is a clear instance of the emerging contradictions in the management of the coalition.

In 2014, given the majority it achieved on its own, the BJP could assert its place within the NDA and call the shots on the number of positions to be allotted to each ally and the portfolios of its ministers. While there were a few murmurs, especially from the Shiv Sena, the allies of the BJP within the NDA grudgingly accepted what was offered to them. Each ally has waited and chosen an appropriate moment to register their unhappiness.

The TDP walked out of the coalition on the special package issue and the Shiv Sena boycotted the no-confidence vote. More recently, the LJP has been making noises on the government’s stand on the Dalit issue, and the Akail Dal has now decided to express its disquiet on being sidelined. As one gets closer to the Lok Sabha polls, one is likely to see frequent expressions of dissent by the NDA allies. The BJP is increasingly realising that it would need to keep its flock together in preparation for the next year’s national poll and even add more parties to the fold.

In this situation, its allies within the NDA see an opportunity to assert their presence and seek a greater say within the alliance.


BJP listens to SAD, the alliance has helped maintain prosperity in Punjab

Jangveer Singh
Media adviser, SAD

The BJP’s issues with the Shiv Sena or the TDP are completely divorced from their relationship with us. Our party, however, has a permanent bond with the BJP. It is not an alliance based on preconditions. We feel it is integral to maintain prosperity and brotherhood in Punjab.

Punjab has seen a prolonged period of peace. So, as long as our parties were in power in Punjab and at the Centre, the region grew. The BJP acted in a manner that was very pro-farmer. They increased the MSP, especially for paddy and cotton. The alliance between the two parties is mutually beneficial.

Frankly, the BJP has been very responsive when it comes to resolving issues with our party. Even when the name of Dyal Singh college in Delhi University was changed, they helped reverse it. Moreover, they have also interceded for our state on the issue of GST on langar.

The BJP listens to us. They have always addressed any issues we have had. We have a good coordination. Similarly, I hope we can work together to resolve issues in the Rajya Sabha as well.


BJP hopes to mend fences with Nitish Kumar, who has been building pressure

Pragya Kaushika
Assistant Editor, ThePrint

The nomination of Harivansh Narayan Singh as the NDA candidate for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, in all likelihood, is an attempt by the BJP to placate its ally, the JD(U). This is the first time that the Bihar-based party has been offered a position of power by the Narendra Modi-led BJP. While the JD(U) had allied with the BJP at the state and central level in 2017, it was kept out of the Modi cabinet. None of its ministers got a cabinet berth.

In the past year, the JD(U) has been trying to keep the BJP on its toes, at least in Bihar. The BJP is compelled to keep the JD(U) in good humour to maximise its tally in 2019.

For the BJP, the choice for the post of deputy to Venkaiah Naidu in Rajya Sabha was between two allies – the SAD and the JD(U). The BJP leaders are quite sure that the SAD will not part ways, especially when the regional party is down and out in the only state it holds some relevance. Moreover, it has representation in the Modi cabinet, so it cannot complain. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats whereas Punjab has only 13. For the BJP, the margin of seats is too much to discount for.

By offering this politically significant post, the BJP hopes to mend fences with Bihar strongman Nitish Kumar, who has been building pressure to accommodate the JD(U) at the Centre. By doling out a post in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP believes the step would help in taming the JD(U), and also contain its attempt to corner the BJP on the issue of seat sharing in Bihar for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj, journalist at ThePrint. You can reach her @deekbhardwaj on Twitter.

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