NEW DELHI: NDA nominee Harivansh will face the joint Opposition candidate, BK Hariprasad when the members of the Upper House will vote to elect the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman on Thursday.
Interestingly, both the sides are confident of their victory and claimed to have majority support.
The numbers, however, appear stacked in favour of the BJP -led ruling coalition which claims the support of 126 members in the Upper House, which has an effective strength of 244 MPs.
While Harivansh is a first-time MP of the JD(U), Hariprasad is a three-time parliamentarian of the Congress. Both sides - the ruling NDA and the Opposition parties - have issued notices on behalf of their respective candidates and their papers have been found to be in order, according to sources in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.
The election will be held at 11 am soon after the laying of papers.
The post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman has been lying vacant since the retirement of P J Kurien on July 1.
The Opposition is claiming support of various parties, including Congress, TMC, DMK, Left parties, SP, BSP, NCP, TDP.
TDP leader YS Choudhary said on Wednesday that his party, which has 6 members in the Upper Hopuse, ''will support Congress leader BK Hariprasad."
On the other hand, the ruling NDA is intact, with the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal extending their full support to the official nominee, besides also by independent parties like the AIADMK and the TRS.
In a big boost to the NDA, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has extended his party's support to Harivansh. The BJD has 9 MPs in the Upper House, while AIADMK and TRS have 13 and 6 MPs respectively.
"We will support Janata Dal-United candidate for the Rajya Sabha post," the Chief Minister told reporters after arriving here from Mumbai.
He confirmed that he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah a few days earlier regarding the election.
The BJD support is important as both the UPA and NDA don't have a majority in the Upper House. .
"We have numbers on our side and Harivanshji will comfortably win the election tomorrow. It would have been better if the deputy chairman was elected unanimously," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said.
On the other hand, Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma too claimed that the Opposition has the numbers as well as a formidable candidate in Hariprasad, even as he accused the government and the BJP of using every tactic and influence of their authority and power to swing the election.
He claimed that the NDA did not have the majority in the Rajya Sabha, else the BJP would have fielded its own candidate, and said the ruling party is going well beyond its fold to get votes.
"It is a great honour for me to be the joint candidate of the Opposition for the post of deputy chairman," Hariprasad said.
According to BJP's calculations, Harivansh is likely to get the backing of 91 NDA members, three nominated and erstwhile SP MP Amar Singh. He also has the votes of some non-NDA parties -- AIADMK (13 members), TRS (six), YSRCP (two) and INLD (one) and BJD (9) -- adding up to 126.
Hariprasad has the support of 61 MPs of the Congress-led UPA, 13 members each of the TMC and the SP, six MPs of the TDP, five of the CPI(M), four each from the BSP and the DMK, two of the CPI and one MP of the JD(S), adding up to 109 members.
One nominated and one independent member will also support the candidature of Hariprasad, sources in the opposition said. This would take the expected opposition total to about 111, they said.
(With Agency inputs)