The Opposition “unity” received a major setback here on Thursday with the ruling BJP-led NDA’s Harivansh being elected the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman with a comfortable majority.
The Opposition, which has a majority in the Upper House, failed to bring its camp together and its candidate, the Congress’ BK Hariprasad, got only 105 votes. Harivansh, of the the JD(U), secured 125 votes.
Deviating from its recent practice of not letting Bills pass amid the din, the Rajya Sabha also passed two Bills — the National Sports University Bill and the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill — when the members of the Congress and the Left were in the Well demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe on the Rafale scam.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu refused to take up a notice of the Congress demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s explanation on the scam. Only the Left parties backed the Congress in its protest.
The victory of the NDA in the election also sent a message to the Opposition about the possible realignment of political forces in 2019. The TRS (six), INLD (one), AIADMK (13) and the BJD (nine) supported Harivansh in the election.
So, apart from the ruling NDA’s 96 MPs, Harivansh received the support of 29 other members. The YSR Congress, with two members, had announced their support to Congress candidate on Wednesday. But on Thursday, both YSRC members abstained, while accusing both the Congress and the had done nothing for Andhra Pradesh.
Most of the 15 members who were absent on Thursday were from the Opposition camp. This included three each from the Congress and the SP, and two each of the Trinamool Congress, the PDP members, and the DMK, and three members of the Aam Aadmi Party. The AAP had said that the Congress did not seek the help of its leader Arvind Kejriwal and that their support could not be taken for granted.
Soon after the poll result was declared, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad congratulated Harivansh.
“Treading on rules and procedures framed by our Constitution makers, we can lead the country to greatness…There would be differences in debates, there would be different opinions…We can find a way,” Harivansh said.