Party needs support in Rajya Sabha to clear key Bills

Despite securing a majority in the Lok Sabha, the BJP has categorically maintained that not only will it accommodate its existing allies in the Cabinet, it will also welcome additions to the existing NDA.

“We welcome any party, even if it has only one MP, into the NDA’s fold,” said the BJP’s chief strategist Amit Shah in an interaction earlier last week.

One reason for this statement could be the fact that the NDA is a minority in the Rajya Sabha.

The UPA also did also not have adequate numbers in the 245-member Rajya Sabha. But the floor management of the Congress helped the Government to pass several key legislations in the Upper House, including the Women’s Reservation Bill and the Lokpal Bill.

The BJP may have to adopt the same strategy to get the majority.

Mutual help

When in Opposition, the BJP had helped the Congress on several occasions, such as the Pension Bill, to gather majority. So, the party may naturally ask the Congress to play its role in Opposition.

At the moment, the NDA has 57 members in the 240-member House (five seats are vacant) while the UPA has 77. Other parties such as Biju Janata Dal (six seats) and the Indian National Lok Dal (two seats) have maintained that they will not take a confrontationist approach towards the Centre.

The BSP, with 14 members, has repented for supporting the UPA. Such signals give the BJP floor managers some elbow room in the Upper House. The DMK (four seats) and the AIADMK (10 seats) usually take an issue-based approach towards business in Rajya Sabha.

Sources said the present Opposition leader Arun Jaitley is likely to be the leader of the Upper House in the NDA regime. Jaitley is known for his manoeuvring skills and he could be of much use for a Modi Government.

Stronger Opposition

The Opposition to Modi in Rajya Sabha, however, will be stronger than that in Lok Sabha. Apart from the UPA, the Samajwadi Party, Left parties and the JD(U) have considerable influence in running the business in the Upper House. “The BJP in Rajya Sabha has been helping the Congress to push the neo-liberal agenda. Now, it has to be seen whether the Congress will return the favour and back the corporate agenda that led to its historic defeat in this election,” said CPI(M) MP P Rajeeve.

(This article was published on May 18, 2014)
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