THE RAJYA SABHA ELECTIONS AHEAD: IT IS GOING TO BE EVEN MORE DRAMATIC

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.

©SantoshChaubey

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AN NDA MAJORITY IN RAJYA SABHA: NOT IN NEAR FUTURE!

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….

©SantoshChaubey

HOW WAS THE FIRST RAJYA SABHA IN 1952

STATALES

THE FIRST RAJYA SABHA IN 1952 WAS A YOUNG ONE. ITS 19.23 PER CENT MEMBERS WERE IN 30-40 AGE GROUP.

THE AVERAGE AGE OF THE FIRST RAJYA SABHA MEMBERS IN 1952 WAS 50.83 YEARS.

MEMBERS IN 60-70 AGE GROUP WERE 15.86 PER CENT OF THE LOT WHILE 3.36 PER CENT MEMBERS WERE OVER 70+.

THE FIRST RAJYA SABHA HAD ONLY ONE MEMBER OVER 80.

MORE THAN HALF OF THE FIRST RAJYA SABHA MEMBERS WERE GRADUATES.

POST GRADUATES RANGED BETWEEN 20 TO 25 PER CENT. AROUND 10 PER CENT MEMBERS HAD DOCTORAL DEGREES AND OTHER HIGHER QUALIFICATIONS.

OVERALL IT WAS AN EDUCATED HOUSE WITH JUST 6 UNDER MATRICULATE AND 17 HIGHER SECONDARY MEMBERS.

109 RAJYA SABHA MPS IN 1952 WERE GRADUATES, 45 WERE POST GRADUATES AND 19 WERE DOCTORATE OR HIGHER QUALIFICATION HOLDER.

24.41 PER CENT RAJYA SABHA MPS IN 1952 WERE LAWYERS, THE LARGEST BLOC.

POLITICAL AND SOCIAL WORKERS WERE NEXT WITH 14.55 PER CENT REPRESENTATION.

AGRICULTURISTS CONSTITUTED THE THIRD LARGEST BLOC FOLLOWED BY BUSINESSMEN AND INDUSTRIALISTS. TEACHERS AND EDUCATIONISTS WERE THE FIFTH LARGEST GROUP.

©SantoshChaubey

LOK SABHA TV V RAJYA SABHA TV: BJP AND CONGRESS IMPRINTS

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.

NEHRU-MOOKERJEE COLLAGE

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.

©SantoshChaubey

MONSOON SESSION: NO THOUGHT-WORTHY CONTENT BUT HIGH ON ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT

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 – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

PARLIAMENT NOW A DISRUPTED, FRACTURED PLATFORM, BUT THEY DON’T CARE!

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 – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/