The NDA now has working majority in the Rajya Sabha

On July 5, when the nation was busy analyzing the Budget, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 2 Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat.

These had fallen vacant after Amit Shah and Smriti Irani won their Lok Sabha seats.

With this, the BJP-led National Demoratic Alliance has secured a working majority in the Rajya Sabha.

After securing nearly two-thirds seats in the Lok Sabha, the BJP aim is to gain majority in the Rajya Sabha to enable easy passage of bills. The BJP crossed the Congress tally in the Upper House for the first time ever in mid-2018.

The whims and fancies of regional parties such as BJD, TRS, YSRCP dictated if important legislations were passed or not during the Modi 1.0 government. For legislations like Triple Talaq, Land Bill, Insurance Bill, the BJP government has adopted the ordinance route after its failure to get them passed in the Rajya Sabha due to lack of numbers. This much-needed boost will help BJP fulfill its manifesto promises.

Currently, the NDA has 114 MPs in the Upper House. This includes 4 independent MPs who have won with NDA backing and 3 MPs nominated during Modi 1.0. Along with Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, which supported a BJP candidate from Odisha despite being in a position to win all the 3 seats, the NDA’s strength increases to 121. Along with pro-NDA parties like TRS and YSRCP, who have supported BJP in the past and are mainly anti-Congress, the NDA enjoys the support of 129 MPs.

Currently, 122 is the majority mark in the Rajya Sabha, as there are 3 vacancies.

The UPA has 69 MPs, including 2 independents and 1 nominated member. Along with anti-NDA parties like Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, Kejriwal’s AAP, Mayawati’s BSP, Mulayam’s SP, Naidu’s TDP, the Left parties and others, the Opposition led by UPA has the support of 113 MPs. Three seats are vacant.

The death of Rajasthan BJP chief and MP Madan Lal Saini has created a vacancy in the state. One seat is vacant in Odisha. One seat of Sharad Yadav (Bihar), disqualified, has been lying vacant since Dec. 2017.

After the Lok Sabha results the BJP has consolidated its position in the Rajya Sabha

  • 4 TDP MPs from Rajya Sabha joined BJP.

  • The lone INLD MP too has joined the BJP.

  • BJP-AGP combine won both the seats in Assam unopposed.

  • In Odisha, BJD won 2 and backed BJP candidate on 1 seat (unopposed). To note, BJD was earlier part of NDA.

  • In Bihar, LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan won on the seat vacated by Ravi Shankar Prasad, as part of the seat sharing arrangement.

  • In Gujarat, BJP won both the seats, enabling External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to enter Parliament.

  • In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK combine won 3, while DMK combine won the balance (unopposed). Both PMK and MDMK bosses Ramadoss and Vaiko made it to the Upper House.

The BJP will further consolidate its position in Rajya Sabha in 2020.

Over the next 5 years till March 2024, 169 MPs are retiring. Elections will be held for 72 seats in 2020, 8 each in 2021 and 2023, 77 in 2022 and 4 in 2024 before Lok Sabha polls.

In 2020, elections to 72 seats are likely to be held. The main states where Rajya Sabha elections will be held are – Andhra Pradesh (4), Bihar (5), Gujarat (4), Karnataka (4), Tamil Nadu (6), Maharashtra (7), West Bengal (5) and Uttar Pradesh (10).

The BJP currently holds 15 seats and its allies 11 seats. In between, the elections to Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana are due in 2019.

The biggest gains for the BJP are likely to come from UP where the BJP swept the 2017 state elections. Ten seats of UP are due for re-election in 2020. The BJP, which currently has just 1 MP, is likely to win 9 out of these 10 seats. K T S Tulsi, nominated by UPA, is also retiring in 2020. This will enable the NDA to nominate a man of their choice.

If we assume that the parties’ respective strength in the three states will remain the same (i.e. BJP retaining power), which is not unjustified considering that BJP-led NDA has swept these states in the Lok Sabha elections held recently, the NDA is expected to gain 11 seats in 2020. By the end of 2020, NDA is likely to have the support of 125 MPs (simple majority on its own).

The UPA’s strength is likely to reduce to 64 MPs. The NDA will also enjoy a cushion of 24 MPs of regional parties (BJD, TRS, YSRCP) which are likely to provide issue-based support as in the past.

Together with pro-NDA parties, the BJP is likely to have support of 149 MPs, just 13 short of two-thirds majority required to pass constitutional amendments.

The BJP now has a working majority in Rajya Sabha. By the end of 2020, it is likely to further consolidate its position in the upper house which will help the party to further its development agenda.