On Friday evening, for the first time in 28 years, former prime minister (PM) Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its website, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament (MPs).
Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. Singh was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.
The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko. However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together. The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha now. Shah has now debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar, while Irani is a Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat Assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.