By Aditya Aamir
The just-concluded Rajya Sabha elections have made some changes to the seating arrangements in the Upper House. Maybe some weeping of tears and gnashing of teeth, too. But ‘Bua Mayawati’ must not be among those weeping tears. She is the gnashing of teeth sort. ‘Bhatija Akhilesh’ was tested in Friday’s Rajya Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh — especially after the aunt had done a favour to the nephew and made him victor in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls — and the red-hatted boy-marvel failed her.
The combined opposition’s regret will be that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bounced back after the twin-by poll losses – in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, and firmed up its position as the largest party in the Rajya Sabha — emerging victorious in 28 of 59 seats. But that is still short of the majority it craves to implement its agenda – uniform civil code, abrogation of article 370…
The BJP won 12 of the 25 seats that saw voting on Friday — nine from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Karnataka. Sixteen others were among the 33 who were declared elected unopposed on March 15, the last day of withdrawal of nomination of candidates.
But Friday saw the most nail-biting finish of all — in UP, where the BJP was assured of eight but wanted a ninth, and it won this one too, because of ‘cross-voting’ by BSP and SP members, resulting in a gnashing of teeth in BSP circles.
The new-look Rajya Sabha will have some faces missing, including the one that identifies as Naresh Chandra Agarwal, the Samajwadi Party-turned-BJP leader whose son Nitin Agarwal was one of the SP legislators who cross-voted, and went across to the BJP-side — like father like son, turncoats!
But the opportunistic father-son duo could not do zilch to prevent the election of the Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan, the actor-turned-politician who replaced ‘father’ Naresh Chandra Agarwal in the SP list and was reasons for Papa’s defection to the saffron party.
The big winner was beyond doubt Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who will remain Leader of the House with a larger flock of BJP Rajya Sabha MPs to tend to. And Rajya Sabha chairman Vice President Venkaiah Naidu will continue to give Jaitley more than the time granted to the Leader of the Opposition in the House and if that leads to a gnashing of teeth it cannot be helped because that is how a shifting of power makes itself felt.
Among the other BJP leaders who have made an entry to the Rajya Sabha is GVL Narasimha Rao, a psephologist-turned-politician who talked his way into Amit Shah’s favour by being a spokesperson for the BJP like Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman once was, and has been called to become one in recent weeks. Both these leaders hail from Andhra Pradesh and if there is something to read in that, don’t expect it to be spelled out in the debate on the no-trust motion against the Modi Government if the motion gets a chance to float.
Just so that they don’t complain, here are the other BJP leaders who make up the party’s added RS list: Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav and the ninth candidate Anil Kumar Agarwal, who pulled off a win with the help of second preference votes.
In other results, Sameer Uranv (BJP) and Dheeraj Sahu (Congress) won the two Rajya Sabha seats from Jharkhand. In Karnataka Republic TV’s Rajeev Chandrashekar was declared winner (on a BJP ticket) along with Congress’s L Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrasekhar. BJP national general secretary Saroj Pandey won the lone Rajya Sabha seat for which polling was held in Chhattisgarh.
The BJP now has 69 seats in the Rajya Sabha, up from the 58. That being said, the BJP-led NDA is still a long way from majority in the 245-member Upper House, already hit by the TDP (six RS members) opting to walk out of the alliance. Parties like AIADMK, TRS and YSR Congress, which will have a combined strength of about 21 after new members take oath, have often supported the government’s legislative agenda in the Rajya Sabha.
That thought should keep BJP spirits up but spirits do not win motions as a gnashing of teeth wouldn’t help improve the mood. Both, however, are better than weeping tears of salt, provided nephew Akhilesh Yadav is prepared to lend a shoulder to aunt Mayawati. (IPA Service)