The Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) is yet to announce its candidate for the vice-presidential election, but knows that its increased numbers in the Rajya Sabha by April 2018 will mean the successor to M Hamid Ansari
will have to face a less obstructionist House of Elders.
When the attention is mostly on whether or not Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury would return for a third term and if at all the Samajwadi Party
come together to help Bahujan Samaj Party
chief Mayawati get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha, BJP
is busy counting its improved numbers by what will be the Narendra Modi government's last Budget session in its present term.
According to a party strategist who is also a Rajya Sabha member, the party would ideally opt for a vice-presidential candidate well versed with Rajya Sabha proceedings. The Vice-President of India is also the Rajya Sabha chairperson and responsible for running the House.
strategists expect its vice-presidential candidate to win by a huge margin and likely to get 550 votes or over 70 per cent of the 788 vice presidential electoral college votes. The vice-presidential electoral college comprises 543 Lok Sabha and 245 Rajya Sabha members.
Over and above the nearly 400 BJP-led National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) votes, strategists expect regional parties like Biju Janata Dal (BJD), YSR Congress
(YSRCP), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), all six independents and most of the eight nominated members to support its vice-presidential candidate.
The BJP-led NDA
is currently way short of the halfway mark of 123 in the 245-member Upper House. As a result, for the better part of its tenure, the Modi government has found its legislative agenda hobbled in the Rajya Sabha and has pushed several of the Bills, including Aadhaar, as 'money Bills'.
But that is set to change. The NDA, on its own, would not get a majority during the current term of the Modi government. But the BJP, thanks to its electoral triumphs in assembly polls, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, is set to increase its tally by nearly a dozen seats from the current 56 by April 2018. That will make it the single largest party in Rajya Sabha.
Crucially, key Opposition parties, especially the Congress
(58) and Samajwadi Party
(18), are set to witness significant decrease in their numbers. The Congress
could come down by around 10 seats, while SP
by five seats.
In the changed scenario, the BJP
could hope for support, on key Bills as well as day to day functioning of the House, from 'neutral' regional players like BJD, AIADMK and others.
From August 2017 to April 2018, as many as 70 members would retire, including three nominated members. Nine members are set to retire in August, three in January and 58 in April. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to debut in the Rajya Sabha with three Congress
members from Delhi retiring in January.