The BJP has shown that some of its allies, despite their grouses with the saffron party, are likely to stick with it in next year’s Lok Sabha polls.
JD(U)’s Harivansh Narayan Singh, the NDA candidate, romped home easily in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election on Thursday, comfortably defeating the Congress’ B.K. Hariprasad, who was fielded after other possible nominees from the UPA and other Opposition parties backed out. With this election, the BJP has shown that some of its allies, despite their grouses with the saffron party, are likely to stick with it in next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Doubts about Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and the Akali Dal, which recently signalled it was somewhat dissatisfied, remaining with the BJP can now be said to have dissolved.
Interestingly, the Shiv Sena, which abstained in last month’s no-confidence motion debate and didn’t vote on the ruling side, decided to back the NDA nominee. It helped that he wasn’t from the BJP. But the political calculation can’t be shrugged off that the Sena’s unhappiness with the BJP is tactical. Although it has openly said it won’t fight the next Parliament election alongside the BJP, this may now be treated as a negotiating stance for seats in Maharashtra.
Besides retaining its core allies, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership the BJP was also able to show that non-UPA and non-NDA parties will gravitate towards the BJP in a crunch situation. Other than the AIADMK, which has been with the BJP though it’s part of the NDA, Odisha’s BJD and Telangana’s TRS underlined this. If all non-NDA parties are taken together, they are in a majority in the Upper House, but not all of them can be thought of as Opposition parties in the sense of being anti-BJP on ideological grounds.
Like the NDA, the UPA core also stuck together in the Rajya Sabha vote. The Congress’ allies in UP, Maharashtra and Bihar, where BJP reverses can deeply upset the ruling side, held together. The SP, BSP, NCP and RJD being with the Congress is crucial to this enterprise. Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress too stuck with the UPA. Only two of the bloc of four DMK members voted, the others apparently constrained from voting by late leader M. Karunanidhi’s funeral in Chennai, but the TDP, an avowedly anti-Congress party since its formation, voted with the Congress for the first time.
While existing party lines in Parliament didn’t change on either side, the AAP said it would have voted with the UPA if Congress president Rahul Gandhi had personally called Arvind Kejriwal. This wouldn’t have altered the overall outcome. But more to the point, the Congress Working Committee had recently decided the party would eventually go with its state units, and the party’s Delhi unit is in favour of challenging the AAP in Delhi.
The convention for the deputy chairman’s election is for the ruling party or alliance to evolve a consensus with the non-government parties through consultation. But it was clear from the start that the NDA wanted its own deputy chairman.