Every Rajya Sabha (RS) election has become a talking point as it is in the Upper House of the Parliament where the ruling BJP finds itself in minority especially when it comes to passing bills and regulating the legislative agenda of the House. The drama and suspense around the election of three Rajya Seats from Gujarat can be seen in this context.

The Rajya Sabha elections for ten RS seats spread across three states, i.e., West Bengal, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, became dramatic this time thanks to Gujarat which is seeing a contest for the first time since 1996. Here, four candidates, including BJP heavyweights Amit Shah and Smriti Irani and Sonia Gandhi’s confidante Amhed Patel, were in fray for three seats and midst reports of cross-voting and other election code violations, the Election Commission had to withhold the counting procedure. It invited the parties, listened to their complaints, deliberated on legalities and finally came to the conclusion that the Congress was right that finally paved the way for Ahmed Patel’s victory.

Candidates for other seats, i.e., six in West Bengal and one in Madhya Pradesh, were elected unopposed.

Though the BJP and its coalition of parties known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are now the largest bloc in the Rajya Sabha, they are still far from, either the simple majority or two-thirds majority. A simple majority in the 245-member House needs 123 seats while a two-thirds majority needs 166 seats. And yesterday’s elections are not going to change that as the parties have retained their respective seats.

The BJP which is now the largest party in the Rajya Sabha has just one seat more than the Congress’ 57. Also, its coalition is in no better shape. After the dramatic political upheaval in Bihar with chief minister Nitish Kumar and his party Janata Dal (United) joining the NDA, switching sides from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the ruling alliance though now has 89 RS MPs, it is still 34 seats away from the simple majority in the House even if Nitish’s act has brought down the strength of the UPA from 84 to 74 MPs in the RS.

Following is the spread-sheet based on Rajya Sabha and Election Commission data that explains when the next Rajya Sabha elections in different states are going to be held. The table shows state-wise and tenure-wise retirement of the members of the Rajya Sabha which sees biennial elections to replace its one third members who retire every two years.

The table also shows the incumbent governments in states and when the next assembly elections are due there as it is the strength in the legislative assemblies that determines the outcome of the RS election. According to the information available on Rajya Sabha’s website, 67 RS MPs are retiring next year while in 2019, the year when the next General Elections are due, only 8 RS MPs are scheduled to retire. The BJP can expect to consolidate its position further in 2018 when 42 RS seats to be filled will fall in the NDA led states but the Gujarat experience says it is not going to be smooth road ahead.

The huge majority in Uttar Pradesh is expected to give BJP seven new RS seats out of nine falling vacant next year from the state but the party or its coalition partners don’t enjoy that advantage in other states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. Also, the future assembly elections will further add to that sense of unpredictability.



The BJP and the alliance led by it, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is now the largest voting bloc in the Upper House of the Parliament, the Rajya Sabha. But they are still short of majority in the 245-member House where a simple majority needs 123 seats while a two-thirds majority needs 166 seats in your fold.

Though The BJP is now the largest party in the Rajya Sabha, the edge is only razor-thin that doesn’t help it when it comes to the numerical strength to pass bills in the Upper House of the Parliament. The party’s 58 Rajya Sabha members of the Parliament (MPs) are just one more than Congress’ 57.

Also, after the dramatic political upheaval in Bihar with chief minister Nitish Kumar and his party Janta Dal (United) joining the BJP the NDA, switching sides from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the ruling alliance now has 89 RS MPs while the strength of the UPA that had 84 MPs, has reduced to 74.

But if we go by the composite numbers of the ruling alliance Vs the opposition, the BJP NDA is still short much short of even the simple majority in the Rajya Sabha, something that would continue to hamper its legislative agenda as the bills passed by the Lok Sabha, where it is in majority, may get stuck in the Rajya Sabha.

Most other parties of the others’ bloc, with parties including the Samajwadi Party (18 MPs), TMC (11 MPs), CPIM (8 MPs), BJD (8 MPs) and BSP (5 MPs, after Mayawati resigned last month) have 68 MPs if we exclude 13 AIADMK MPs who are expected to join the NDA soon. Their combined strength with the UPA takes the combined anti-BJP opposition number in the Rajya Sabha to 142.

Election for 10 Rajya Sabha seats will be held tomorrow, three of them are in Gujarat, six in West Bengal and one in Madhya Pradesh. Out of these 10, the BJP is expected to grab three seats or maximum four, if it can arrange numbers in Gujarat. The TMC is going to retain its five West Bengal quota seats and the Congress one with Pradip Bhattacharya slated to sail over. The TMC has re-nominated three of its RS MPs, Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy while Shanta Chhetri and Manas Bhunia are slated to add to its RS ranks.

The BJP has two RS MPs from Gujarat who are retiring, Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya. The other one is Congress’ Ahmed Patel. The BJP has re-nominated Smriti Irani while party’s president Amit Shah and another candidate Balwantsinh Rajput are also in the fray. The Congress has re-nominated Ahmed Patel. So there are four candidates in fray for the three RS seats from Gujarat.

The lone RS seat from Madhya Pradesh fell vacant after death of BJP’s Anil Madhav Dave and will go the BJP again given its absolute majority in the state assembly with Sampatiya Uikey, a tribal face, set to join the RS for the remainder of Dave’s term till June 2022.

In Gujarat, the BJP is trying to wrest Ahmed Patel’s seat who can easily win the polls if all Congress and UPA MLAs vote for him. The BJP is trying to make a dent here. But even if it wins the Ahmed Patel’s seat, it will add only one member to its existing tally, i.e., 90 from 89, otherwise it would remain the same.

No other RS member is going to retire before January 2018 when three RS MPs from the Congress will retire. As they are from Delhi, the three vacancies will go to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that will effectively rule-out any change in the BJP Vs opposition equation of the Rajya Sabha. Another RS MP from Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) is retiring in February 2018. The SDF is an NDA ally so there will be no change even then. No members are retiring in March 2018.

The next big change is going to come in April 2018 when 57 RS MPs are going to retire including nominated members like Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha.

To continue….



The Rajya Sabha speaks in the voice of the Indian National Congress and the political opposition that see its ideological and political survival in BJP bashing.

That is the sole reason responsible for the logjam around important Bills like Land Acquisition, tax reform bills including the Goods and Services Tax Bill, the Whistleblowers Bill and so on.

Both the Houses define each other as tyrannical and anarchist – and the debate always rages.

And this skewed discourse is best reflected best in the content of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha television channels.

As the names suggest, the Lok Sabha TV comes under the control of the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Rajya Sabha TV under the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

The content and the manpower selection and retention are thus aligned accordingly.

Yesterday, while randomly changing channels – I came across a perfect testimony to this – on June 25, around 3 PM.


The Lok Sabha TV was showing a programme on Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, once a minister in the Jawahar Lal Nehru’s cabinet who quit the Congress due to his difference with Pundit Nehru and formed the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP.

Like him or like any other political figure or ideologue associated with the BJP or its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS), most in India would not see much of them on TV (especially on the state run TV channels). But they are now all over, especially on the state channels run by the government like the Doordarshan, India’s national broadcaster.

Likewise, on the Rajya Sabha TV, still under the control of the Rajya Sabha with its control gear in the hands of a Congress member, it still revolves around political, ideological and historical figures of the post-Independence India – like Pundit Nehru.

The Lok Sabha TV was showing a programme on the Zamindari Abolition Act with Pundit Nehru in focus.

The two programmes on these two channels – in the same time slot – on the same day – indicated only this – reaffirmed only this – though it may be an unrelated, random event.



As expected, the completeness of the washout of the Monsoon session of the Parliament was complete today, on its last working day – that was again a copy of every other day – the way it has been this time since July 21, when the session began.

Reports says the washed out session has wasted some 250 crore of taxpayers ‘money. Reports also say a failure to pass the Goods and Service Bill in this session means some 2-3% drop in the markets. Reports also say the long term effect on the economy of nation of stalled GST Bill or Land Bill would be severely negative.

But who cares!

Reports say there may be another session, the special one, from August 30 to pass the GST Bill – because it is not done now, it will become impossible to achieve its targeted implementation by April 1, 2016.

GST is an important tax reform that will fundamentally change the concerned taxation structure in the country. It requires the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passing it separately and from there it goes to the state legislatures and half of the Indian states need tom ratified it before it could become a law.

Now, that can be done, as the BJP is in government in many states and as the many non-BJP state governments are supporting the Bill. The riddle lies in Rajya Sabha and the BJP will try to arrange the numbers somehow if the special session is held.

The Congress party, that was the principal force behind the washout this time, is in majority in Rajya Sabha, with 68 members in the 245 member upper house. And, in the name of democracy, it swept the entire 18 days without any result – as the PRS Legislative Research analysis shows – the Rajya Sabha had an overall productivity of just 9% while its question hour could give an output of just 1%.

So, irrespective of political statements about majority of numbers in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the developments were as the respective political stands – Congress had points to raise questions to score political points and disrupting the Houses, it thought, as the political parties think, was its most visible representation. Rajya Sabha where the BJP is in minority and where Congress is the largest party became the main battle arena for it.

Similarly, the BJP, that is in the government, has clear majority in the Lok Sabha and since as it in the government this time, it has the responsibility to carry out business transactions that reflects in 52% productivity of the lower house, much higher than Rajya Sabha – though, on ground, and in reality, even the Lok Sabha could not work properly.

Every day in the Parliament, in its both Houses, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, witnessed similar characters voicing similar jumbled voices charging the atmosphere to a new ‘unruly high’ that was ‘soap opera’-esque – shows running day in and day out on different television channels – with no thought-worthy content but high on entertainment quotient.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Tomorrow, another Parliament session is coming to an end – with a beginning that hardly had begun when the disruptions started.

In fact, the trend (or the prevailing culture/political sentiments) was right on the job from the last session. The political culture of disruption, in fact, has been consistently extended from one Parliament session to the next most of the times in the recent political history.

It is said the recent Budget Session was the most productive one recently (in fact, in the last 15 years) but even it was replete with anti-Parliamentary stands resulting in a chaos/ruckus that has become synonymous with the work culture of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

A work culture where every work is done except the work for which the Parliament sessions are held thrice annually – to assess how the country is being run and to assess how it can be run – because the Union Government is the supreme administrative arch of the nation.

A work culture that has become so one with the politics of disruption that the disturbing trend now runs as its routine undercurrent.

A work culture that now prominently gives rise to countless debates on ‘if the Parliament will be able to work or transact some of its businesses on a coming tomorrow’ – a ‘tomorrow’ that is becoming more and more distant now.

And the prime people manning the Parliament, our politicians, the select few whom we elect (or who are elected), are not at all worried about it.

When it comes to disruptions, every political outfit, based on its position (sitting arrangement in the Parliament), is to share the blame, or in the prevailing political language of the day – the way political parties like to describe their disruptive stands – is to share the credit of ‘promoting democratic values’.

They don’t care if the Indian Parliament is now known as a disrupted, fractured platform that oozes out a feeling that nothing sense can be discussed there. They don’t care if verbal attacks on political rivals by them leave us in bad taste – something that was most intense today.

They don’t care if every washed out Parliament session, as this one is going out to be, wastes hundreds of crores of taxpayers’ money directly – and causes massive losses indirectly due to stalled policy decisions – like the delayed land reforms – or possibly (now) delayed Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST Bill) that could see the markets ‘fall by 2-3%’ as the analysts say.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Well, if Narendra Modi can request his countrymen to do so for LPG cylinders (liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, main cooking fuel in houses where PNG or ‘piped natural gas’ has not reached – or families that can and can somehow afford it), his government can certainly push the fellow members and their officials and officials of the Parliament and the Government to give up the ‘huge subsidy’ – ranging from 60% to over 100% (in some cases, a dish with raw material cost of Rs. 99 is served for Rs. 33) – on food in the Parliament canteens.

Congress has supported the move. Parliamentarians can give it up voluntarily. Or, they can come with a yardstick. Also, it is a popular issue politically – like Arvind Kejriwal successfully cashed the electoral popularity of ‘VIP culture’ in Delhi polls – most members (of Parliament) would be forced to look positive to such measures. Some may oppose the move but their count would not be enough to obstruct a decision to this effect. And if the politicians there support it, we can count the bureaucrats in.

Now, for the point – as told reportedly – that politicians alone cannot be blamed for the practice – well, politicians and well-to-do bureaucrats are to be blamed for it.

On March 27, Narendra Modi had appealed – as the Times of India writes – “People who can afford buying LPG at market rates should give up subsidy on cooking gas. Money we save from giving up LPG subsidy is the money we will use for the poor, so that they have access to clean energy too.”

It is now almost three months to that statement. MPs and bureaucrats could have set a precedent for masses by refusing subsidized food items in the Parliament. Alternatively, they could have come up with a mechanism to fix market price of each item to pay accordingly.

They did not do it. They have not done it. Would they do it now?

It is not for the Rs. 60.7 crore subsidy given to the Parliament canteens in the last five years, as Subhash Chandra Agrawal’s RTI reply reveals. It is a very small amount when we count the overall government expenditure on politicians. It is about the message that such gesture would send to the masses – in times, when we are moving towards a ‘subsidy free’ governance – in times, when economists urge for the ‘pressing need’ to do so – in times, when the government looks convinced to do so.

The prices that have not been revised since December 2010 look ridiculously low. After all, where do we get a ‘masala dosa’ for Rs. 6 or ‘boiled vegetables’ at Rs. 5? And the long ‘ridiculously funny’ list is replete with such examples. And it is not in the canteens of the Parliament. We have other such spots on the ‘subsidy freeway’ where wrong people are enjoying such perks.

Parliament canteens can set a precedent for all such folks. Would our Parliamentarians, bureaucrats and other ‘financially capable’ people relishing such ‘subsidized delicacies’ do so?

Would they voluntarily give up the subsidy on food items in the Parliament canteens beginning with the Monsoon Session that is from July 21?

Would they pay the ‘market prices’ with ‘service tax’ as every Indian is expected to pay (and has to pay) till the issue is fixed?

And since any such move will be ‘self-driven’, ‘altruistic’ and ‘voluntary, it will take care of those ‘who really need subsidized food items’ from the Indian Parliament canteens.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


After Punjab and Maharashtra, he began his farmers connect exercise in Telangana. In Adilabad, during his 15 Kms Padyatra covering five villages where farmers have committed suicide, he took on Narendra Modi, his land acquisition bill and K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the Telangana chief minister, today.

After his around two month long sabbatical or leave of absence, Rahul is in aggressive mode and irrespective of who closed the Amethi Food Park (his own United Progressive Alliance government is responsible for it), the changed provisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s land acquisition bill, that undoes some important clauses of the land bill passed by the UPA government in September 2013, have opened a front for him to attack the government and do the politics of looking pro-poor.

He even met the civil society members on the diluted provisions of the real estate bill. The NDA government has changed or diluted provisions of the bill brought by the UPA government and he alleges the changed provisions to be anti-people.

Clearly, he sees a point here to score politically, and like anyone else in the politics, he is doing the same thing.

Yes, he is silent on Robert Vadra even if the government of Haryana has formed a one-man commission of retired Justice S. N. Dhingra, of Delhi High Court who sentenced Afzal Guru to death, to probe Vadra land deals in Haryana. Congress, naturally, has reacted on it. Vadra has welcomed the move hoping it will clear things.

Rahul who called K. Chandrasekhar Rao ‘mini Modi’ today has forced others, especially in the BJP, to take note of him. He cannot be dismissed anymore, like the politics of his past. Before his return, he had rarely spoken in the Parliament, two times in all, including his famed ‘Kalavati’ speech in 2008. Whatever is the intent of the day, he is making life difficult for the BJP.

He is making leaders in the BJP to attack him, either on the land bill, or on other issue of ‘politics of poor’. And that is what he needs, his politics needs at the moment.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


India is slated to become the world’s youngest nation by 2020. The UN (UNFPA State of the World’s Population report) says 356 million (28%) of its population is in 15-24 age-group, largest in the world.

Census of India says around 48% India’s population is below 21.

65% of India’s population is below 35.

While writing this, India’s population is over 1.25 billion, world’s second most populous nation after China, and projected to take over China by 2050.

A report by the US (Special 301 Report for 2015) says India’s internet base is projected to be of 370 million users by this year end, the second largest in the world. The report says 213 users will be using mobile internet by this June.

India’s teledensity is around 100 crores (1000 million). Lowering of smartphone prices has quickened the spread of mobile internet in India, already large enough, especially among the youth and working-age population.

The world’s second largest telecom network is India now.

And it is projected to be the world’s fastest growing economy, overtaking the growth rate of China.

That would be in Rahul Gandhi’s mind when his office joined Twitter yesterday. But a Twitter handle @RahulGandhi or a similar one would be far better than @OfficeOfRG.

It may be a personal decision by a politician who is trying to be more aggressive in national politics after returning from his leave of absence.

And as he has had not any social media presence so far, he would have thought to test the waters first with @OfficeOfRG. Rahul has been a favourite social media trend so far, especially for jokes.

Even if not in his name, it is expected from Rahul Gandhi that he will take this initiative seriously. After all, voters, too, come from this working-age population.

The lack of action so far, on day-1 and day-2 can have their own benefits of doubt and we should be ready to give that.

Day-1 was about ‘waiting for Twitter authentication’ and day-2 may be about the first day of activity, with three tweets so far, with the latest one nine hours ago. Hope, the initiative will see more and robust action from day-3 onwards.

If he has to take on the government, if he has to target Narendra Modi, there are more than enough issues in Indian politics to write about, to take care of.

It is all about going beyond the symbolic representations this time, of a hand, of hands and of Robert Vadra.

Rahul Gandhi Twitter

Rahul Gandhi Twitter 2

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


“Today we pay tribute to the millions of workers whose hard work, sweat and tears have gone into building our nation. No country can aspire to greatness without ensuring that the people who build the nation are partners in its prosperity and success. That those who work in our factories, in our fields, at our construction sites, in our mines and in enterprises big and small across our country are assured dignity of labour and a decent quality of life. That their children too have opportunities to choose the life they want to live, and a chance to excel and prosper. Let us renew our resolve today to strive for an India in which every citizen rich or poor, farmer and labourer, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth can hold their head high and live and work with dignity and honour.”

Rahul Gandhi said this today, on May Day, on Labour’s Day, or on International Workers’ Day. And while saying so, he extended the revival plank of his party, the Indian National Congress, of being pro-poor and fighting for the cause of the farmer.

He is on an India tour these days, protesting the land bill ordinance. In his meetings and outreach programmes, he alleges the Narendra Modi’s government of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. He is alleging that the Narendra Modi’s government is pro-corporate interests and is working to usurp the rights and land of farmers and the poor of this country. He is saying that the ordinance route was taken as the government was not sure of its chances in the Parliament.

Yesterday, he was in Vidarbha, the place of Kalavati and Shashikala and countless others; the place where Rahul ate at Kalavati’s house in May 2008 (in Yavatmal’s Jalka village) and mentioned her later in his famous speech in the Indian Parliament during the trust-vote Manmohan Singh’s government.

He trekked 15 Kms of it. He is there to reach out to farmers and poor. Unseasonal rains have destroyed crops in around 2 lakh hectares, as the government data show. The real figure is expected to be higher, like the farmer suicides, over 1000 this year, in affected regions across 14 states. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have seen many farm suicides in these months.

And the National Democratic Alliance’s government has already re-promulgated a land ordinance that is vociferously opposed by the political opposition as well as some allied within the government.

A changed Rahul sees an opportunity here – of Congress’ revival – and of taking on Bhartiya Janata Party.

Yes, a changed Rahul Gandhi.

Post his latest sabbatical, Rahul looks politically active and more aggressive. And the BJP is taking it seriously, hitting back. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s response in the Indian Parliament yesterday can be seen this way. Firstpost quoted him saying – “Yeh sujh-bujh ki sarkar hai, isme koi galat fahmi nahi rahe (this is a government of solutions, there should be no misconception about this). Booted hona better hai. Booted out hona khatarnak hai (It is better to be booted. Getting booted out is very dangerous). Yesterday there was criticism (by Rahul) against the Prime Minister that he spends time abroad. At least we know where he is. Is India taller in the community of nations today than it was a few years ago or not? I was surprised when I read over the last few days that compared to the developed world, whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or Nepal today, it is India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. The Congress Party would realize when the Prime Minister of India goes abroad even for two days or three days, he performs a national duty. There is a difference between performing a national duty and disappearing for a jaunt. Therefore, you must realize the difference between the two. What is the kind of commitment to politics that you suddenly disappear for months together and then you come back and say that I will pick up an issue every day merely because it will make my presence felt.”

So, Rahul Gandhi, after his leave of absence, is more certain of his future than ever it seems. Probably, he has introspected and meditated about it.

Hope, the changed streak is there to stay – and words of his May Day speech, that are clearly backed by a pro-poor approach, should be backed by an intent that is natural.

And yes, he has to find the solution to the ‘Robert Vadra riddle’ and convince the countrymen about it. It should happen soon. There is indeed a mayday like situation there.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Let’s be political about it and let’s be politically correct about it.

And let’s be politically straightforward about it.

And being politically straightforward in this country means it needs a strong government and a strong opposition – if we go by the legislative politics and political developments of the day.

Now there is a strong government, led by Narendra Modi – the National Democratic Alliance government led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP led government won the majority on its own, first time in 30 years – since 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi stormed to the Parliament winning 404 of the seats – riding high on the sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

But there is no strong opposition. And there are no strong opposition leaders – to the stature of Narendra Modi – except very few – who can challenge Narendra Modi nationally.

And Rahul Gandhi after his recent sabbatical stands first among them.

For the time-being, he looks charged, has an agenda, and is pursuing it.

If we take different news reports in consideration, his latest sabbatical was of around two months. The world was talking about it but came to know about it officially on a Monday (February 23) when the Budget session of the Parliament began. On April 16, he returned.

Reports say many things about his sabbatical – including introspection and meditation (that included Vipassana as well).

He made news headlines during his around two-months long sabbatical. He was seen as a reluctant politician with a string of electoral failures since 2010. The aura of ‘seriousness’ around him was on the wane. But his leave of absence, shrouded in mystery, made for daily news elements.

And the good things is – his return and he himself are making for even more news elements.

And that is good for Indian politics. He is taking on the government. His politics looks like having a future now. He is speaking and interacting regularly.

Hope this streak is there to stay with an active and aggressive Rahul Gandhi.

Indian politics of the day badly needs a strong opposition and opposition leader and Rahul Gandhi can lead here. One-sided numbers of political opposition in Rajya Sabha would be of little advantage to the country until there are voices, both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, that raise issues in a constructive way and are ready to fight back.

And the government is taking serious note of Rahul Gandhi now, readings of the political developments of the day tell us.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –