The BJP’s lacklustre performance in the last five state Assembly polls may make it harder for the party to get a majority in the Upper House.

BJPs chances for majority in Rajya Sabha difficult in 2020 Heres why
news Parliament Tuesday, January 07, 2020 - 16:02

Getting a majority in the Rajya Sabha may just become harder for the BJP in 2020 – after it lost in Maharashtra and was defeated in the Jharkhand Assembly polls. A total of 74 Rajya Sabha seats will go to the polls this year, with 70 members retiring and four already vacant seats coming up for election. And while the BJP has been eyeing a majority in the Upper House for a while now, the task will become difficult because of the way state elections have panned out.

Of the 70 members retiring from the Upper House of the Parliament this year, 18 are from the BJP and 17 are from the Congress. Of the six Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu whose terms come to an end, four are from the AIADMK (BJP's ally), one CPI(M) member and one DMK member. This equation, too, could change, as the DMK won 12 seats during the bye-polls. Others include members from parties such as the TRS, BJD, etc. 

Those retiring this year include Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Ramdas Athawale as well as other prominent leaders such as Sharad Pawar, Digvijay Singh and Vijay Goel. Noted lawyer KTS Tulsi, who was nominated to the Upper House by the Congress-led UPA government, will also retire during the year. 

Currently, the BJP holds 83 seats in the 245-member Rajya Sabha. With the halfway mark at 123, the party has been managing to pass their Bills in the House with support from allies AIADMK (11 seats), JD(U) (6 seats), and the Shiromani Akali Dal (3 seats). Walkouts by regional parties have helped them in some cases, such as the RTI Amendment Bill and the AIADMK walkout during the Triple Talaq Bill. 

Main opposition party Congress meanwhile holds 46 seats in the House. But considering they’ve managed to win state elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, and were able to form an alliance with Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra, they are slated to have a better showing in the House in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. The BJP is slated to hover around where it already is and not an inch closer to its dream of getting a majority.

How Rajya Sabha MPs are elected

To understand the math, we need to first look at the way Rajya Sabha MPs are elected. Out of the 245 MPs in Rajya Sabha, 12 are nominated and 233 are elected. However, unlike Lok Sabha MPs, Rajya Sabha MPs are not directly elected by the people. They are indirectly elected, by MLAs from their state. Depending on the state they’re from, each MLA’s vote carries a certain weightage. This means that whichever party has more seats in a state Assembly, will have an upper hand and can pick more MPs for Rajya Sabha. 

The term of a Rajya Sabha MP lasts for six years. The Upper House does not get dissolved. One-third of Rajya Sabha’s members retire every two years. 

Vacancies this year

As mentioned above, 70 Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant in 2020 — four seats each will be vacant from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Odisha. Elections for three Rajya Sabha seats each in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two each in Telangana, Haryana, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh will also be held this year. Eleven seats are up for polls in Uttar Pradesh, followed by seven from Maharashtra, six from Tamil Nadu, five each from West Bengal and Bihar. One each from Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh will be vacated.

While in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the BJP is clearly at a disadvantage because they lost the elections in the states, another state that is likely to give them trouble is Haryana.

Though the BJP grappled to ensure it forms a government in Haryana with the help of a post-poll alliance, its number of MLAs fell. While in the outgoing Assembly, the BJP had 47 MLAs, it came back reduced to 40.

Maharashtra has been an equally sombre story for the BJP where the non-negotiable stand on sharing of the Chief Minister's post between the two pre-poll allies BJP and Shiv Sena led to the Sena walking out of the NDA and forming the government with Congress and NCP. In 2014, the BJP accumulated 122 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly, but got 17 seats less in 2019. Whereas, the tally for the Congress rose in both Haryana by 14 seats. It also added 2 seats in Maharashtra. 

Eleven seats of Rajya Sabha seats are getting vacant from Uttar Pradesh in 2020, but this may not spell any trouble for BJP. The party that is likely to get affected in Rajya Sabha from UP is the Samajwadi Party, as the BJP won an overwhelming majority of 325 seats in the Assembly polls in 2017, as against just 47 seats in 2012. The SP, on the other hand, had 224 seats in 2012 and has been reduced to 47 seats now.

With inputs from agencies

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