By: Fatima Hasan
Be it newspapers or TV channels or any place, the discussion is only about Covid-19, but there is something important which is currently postponed and may soon hit the headlines. It is the Rajya Sabha elections which would be the first after the Lok Sabha elections held in 2019 and also the recent setbacks that the BJP suffered. Although it is not a body of members elected in direct polls, but the fact that BJP has not yet gained majority in this House in six years draws our attention.
The Election Commission of India notified the schedule of Rajya Sabha elections to be held on 26th March but now these got deferred until further notice. The elections to 55 Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in 17 States in April 2020 on different dates are of utmost significance. Among 55 seats, 7 are from Maharashtra, 6 from Tamil Nadu, 5 each from West Bengal and Bihar, 4 each from Gujarat, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, 3 each from Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two each from Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana and one each from Himachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya. After the last date of withdrawal on 18th March, respective Returning Officers recently declared 37 seats from 10 States filled uncontested. That means the candidates in these seats will be declared winners unopposed when the results are announced.
The polling for the remaining 18 unfilled seats in seven States— Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Manipur and Meghalaya — would be held when the Election Commission notifies a fresh date.
Why Rajya Sabha matters ?
If Lok Sabha is one House where the government reins, then Rajya Sabha is the other House which enables the government to carry out its agenda smoothly if it has the numbers. Since it came to power in 2014, the BJP has not yet gained majority in the Rajya Sabha and currently it has 83 members, well short of 123 for simple majority in a 245-member House. As BJP is keen on revamping some of the crucial constitutional provisions, gaining control over the Upper House is vital for it. Though it did not have numbers but it was supported by parties like BJD, YSRCP and the like in passing crucial bills like Triple Talaq, Abrogation of Article 370 and Citizenship Amendment Act.
The BJP government, known for its drastic decisions, may like to bring Uniform Civil Code in the country if it gains majority in Rajya Sabha. Also, it will prove to be a boon for the Government in power to have its way in the Upper House by checkmating the opposition parties in the future. And, the BJP may get the Vice President’s post again.
In the next spell of Rajya Sabha elections which will be held in 2021, the BJP is bound to gain from Uttar Pradesh, where 10 seats will fall vacant, apart from Karnataka and Arunachal Pradesh. If that happens, then it can be said that BJP has won from all fronts and it will also make history of ushering in ‘one-party rule’ and can ensure its win for another five-year term in 2024.
However, in the current 2020 elections to Rajya Sabha, in the remaining 18 left-over seats, BJP’s win will depend on the numbers it can garner in these States. There are fair chances of BJP getting all the 4 seats in Gujarat where it has 103 MLAs and it has good prospects in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Whatever be the case, BJP is likely to increase its present tally by 6 or 7 more seats..
With the number of seats gained by its allies like JD(U) in Bihar and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and support of other smaller parties allied with it now, the BJP-led ruling alliance may cross the majority mark of 123 seats in 2021. The party expects to make gains from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.