Sixty-one Rajya Sabha vacancies to arise by mid-next year

Pankaj Sharma and Ajay Vaishnav / Zee Research Group

With 61 Rajya Sabha seats to fall vacant in the next one year, the stage is set for fresh political hobnobbing and overtures. The Congress’ announcement of support to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) nominee Kanizmohi for Rajya Sabha elections, three months after snapping ties with the Dravidian party, shows there are no permanent allies or foes in politics.

In fact, the manner in which sparring parties maneuver and divide seats in Rajya Sabha suggests politics is more about compromise. Isn’t it intriguing, while Rajya Sabha seats are settled with political adjustments and maturity, Lok Sabha continues to remain acrimonious and suffers from paralysis?

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of electoral scene across states shows that barring Jayalalitha’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu, all political parties will have to cooperate to send even one of their nominees to the Upper House.

In Tamil Nadu, six seats each will fall vacant by July 2013 and April 2014, respectively. The valid vote required to send one member from Tamil Nadu to the Rajya Sabha is 39.16. On the basis of the present strength of parties in the 235-member Assembly, only AIADMK with 150 members can easily manage to send three of its nominees to the upper house. DMK with just 23 members in the Assembly will need the support of other smaller parties to get the 39.16 mark.

Likewise, in April 2014, a total of 55 Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant in 16 states – West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.

In West Bengal, five seats for Rajya Sabha will fall vacant by April 2014. Mamata’s Trinamool Congress is guaranteed of three seats in the 294-member Assembly while two seats will be left for other parties including the Left Front.

Andhra Pradesh’s quota in the upper house stands at six. The vacancies will arise by April 2014. On the basis of the party strength in the 294-member Assembly, the Congress can manage to send two members to Rajya Sabha while the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is guaranteed of one seat. But, other parties will have to work over time for the rest three seats.

During the same period, Rajya Sabha vacancies will arise for Maharashtra and Bihar, which have seven and five seats respectively. In Maharashtra, a nominee will have to secure 41.14 valid votes in order to get elected. In such a scenario, Congress will marginally fall short of two seats in the upper house. The NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena, however, will manage to easily send one of their candidates.

The estranged allies in Bihar, Janata Dal (U) and BJP, could have managed to grab all five Rajya Sabha seats. But, now while JD (U) will easily send two candidates, BJP will have to work overtime to muster numbers to get two seats in the upper house.

The situation is not very different in other states. Gujarat will have four vacancies and BJP will manage to send at least two from the state while Congress has numbers to send just one. The extra seat will be contested and involve political manoeuvring. Haryana’s two seats in Rajya Sabha will require political grandstanding between Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

For Orissa’s four seats, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will win at least two seats and can manage one more with the help of other parties such as the BJP and the Congress. The latter will for sure win one seat in the coastal state. In Assam, Congress is comfortably placed to win at least one seat. The analysis for states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan cannot be done as all the three are slated for Assembly Elections later this year.

The overall political landscape in Rajya Sabha may change mid-next year. If the party in power in the Lok Sabha enjoys a majority or emerges as the single largest party in the upper house as well, it will augur well for our polity. But, if there is not much alteration in the current strength of parties in Rajya Sabha, a prolonged period of acrimony may persist.