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Here's why UP numbers are so important at Rajya Sabha for Modi govt

Opposition plans to embarrass Modi govt again like in 2015 and 2016

Narendra Modi

Archis Mohan New Delhi
In Aligarh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a public rally on Sunday that winning Uttar Pradesh assembly polls was important to help his party get a majority in the Rajya Sabha. 

He said BJP’s rivals have come together in Uttar Pradesh not just to win the assembly polls, but to frustrate his party’s efforts to get a majority in the Rajya Sabha. “They are scared. They know if Modi gets a majority in Rajya Sabha he will push for laws that will leave no room for the corrupt,” the PM said.

The PM’s comments come when the Opposition is planning to embarrass his government in the Rajya Sabha this week. It is all set to demand a vote on the motion of thanks on the President’s address to get the government to concede that its demonetisation decision failed to achieve its objectives, caused hardships to people and led to over a 100 deaths. But opposition unity is under some question.

Government strategists are reaching out to some of the opposition parties to not press for a vote on the motion of thanks to the President’s address. The Opposition had embarrassed the government in both 2015 and 2016 by forcing it to amend the President’s address.

Currently, the Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it leads, is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha. The lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha has meant some of Modi government’s key Bills have either had to be withdrawn or amended to get the Opposition on board, or tabled as ‘money Bills’.

Opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress are unlikely to press for a division of votes, and others like Biju Janata Dal and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) might abstain from voting. But even the coming together of the rest of the opposition would make it difficult for the government to prevent a defeat. 
The Trinamool Congress has moved amendments, but sources said the party will not press for a division of vote in honour of President Pranab Mukherjee. Notably, two of Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha members are currently in jail in a case that the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing.

Currently, the BJP has 56 seats to Congress’ 60 seats in the Rajya Sabha. The NDA has a total of 74 members. The BJP hopes to increase its tally in the Rajya Sabha at the time of its biennial elections in 2018. Once in two years, at least a third of Rajya Sabha’s 245 members retire. In 2018, nearly 70 would retire and a significant 10 will retire from UP. A defeat in UP will, therefore, dent Modi government’s efforts to win more seats in Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha seats

2017: 10 MPs to retire (6 from Bengal (including Sitaram Yechury and Derek O’Brien); 3 from Gujarat (including Smriti Irani and Ahmed Patel) and Shantaram Naik from Goa)

2018: 67 MPs to retire (incl. 10 from UP, 6 from Bihar, 5 from Bengal, 4 from Karnataka, 6 from Maharashtra, 3 from Andhra Pradesh, etc)

Current Rajya Sabha strength: 244

Congress and others
‘Neutral’ regional parties
BJP 56
Congress 60

Biju Janata Dal 8
Telugu Desam Party 6
Samajwadi Party 19
Shiv Sena 3
Janata Dal (United) 10
Shiromani Akali Dal 3
Left parties 9
Janata Dal (Secular) 1
Bahujan Samaj Party 6
Nationalist Congress Party 5
Other allies 4
Trinamool Congress 11
Telangana Rashtra Samiti 3
YSR Congress 1
Rashtriya Janata Dal 3
Nominated 8
Other UPA allies 3
Independents 5
Total 74
Total 125
Total 45

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First Published: Feb 06 2017 | 1:52 AM IST

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