Opposition raring for contest to post of RS Deputy Chairman

Opposition raring for contest to post of RS Deputy Chairman

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) The opposition is raring for a contest for the post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman as it sees a realistic chance of beating the ruling BJP-led NDA when election is held after incumbent P.J. Kurien's term ends in July.

The numbers in the upper house are delicately poised and parties seen to be equidistant from both Congress and BJP seemingly hold the key. These parties that include the BJD, Telangana Rasthra Samiti and YSR Congress together account for 23 members.

In a house with an effective strength of around 240 members, the BJP-led NDA is likely to have the support of about 115 MPs, including the Shiv Sena, while the opposition can claim the backing of more than 110 members.

The BJP has improved its numbers in the Rajya Sabha following the recent biennial elections on the back of its success in state assembly polls under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But despite being the single largest party with 67 members, it may not be in a position to ensure outright victory of NDA candidate without some deft manoeuvring.

The Congress-led opposition is also hopeful that the regional parties will be guided by their assessment of prospects in 2019 Lok Sabha polls and may like to keep a distance from the BJP in the given political scenario where the opposition has several issues to target the Modi government.

Much will depend on the outcome of the Karnataka assembly polls next month as it will decide if BJP is able to retain political momentum.

While BJP lost TDP as an important ally last month, it has been having an uneasy relationship with Shiv Sena for the past few months. There has been speculation that the party could offer the post of Deputy Chairman to its ally from Maharashtra to smoothen the ties.

Several opposition parties had come together to put up a common candidate in the presidential and vice-presidential polls.

The opposition parties have already started informally discussing options to zero in on a candidate with widest acceptability for the election to the post of Deputy Chairman.

The post has traditionally been with the ruling party at the Centre.

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