by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
RS Deputy Chairman poll
BJP drags feet as Opposition turns strident,
BJD, AIADMK neutral
New Delhi, July 30
The prospects of holding elections for the post of Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha receded with the Opposition parties launching fresh attack on the ruling NDA today. Contrary to the friendly conduct of the Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK & other small parties in the Lok Sabha towards the government, these parties joined ranks with the Congress, TMC & others in opposing the government on various bill. The way the Motor Vehicles and other two bills failed to pass the Rajya Sabha muster has made the ruling BJP re-think on holding the Deputy Chairman's poll.
The government was inclined to evolve a consensus for the post which fell vacant on July 2 and informal talks were underway with leaders of all political parties in the Rajya Sabha. Since the government is short of majority in a house of 244, it sounded out TMC & BJD for the post. However, both the parties refused to bite the bait and said the government should find a person who is acceptable of the entire house. Several names cropped up and Naresh Gujral of the Akali Dal was emerging as the choice. But the BJP leadership is keen that one of its own leaders to inducted to the post considering the fact that the house is evenly divided. The BJP wanted its senior Bhupendra Yadav to be elected for the post but the numbers eluded the party. The leadership was, however, trying to garner numbers in its favour.
However, going by today's developments in the Rajya Sabha when the house was forced to adjourn over the National Register of Citizenship issue in Assam, it is clear that the Upper House may not have a smooth running. If sources are to be believed, the Congress will raise the Rafale deal issue once the NRC case subsides. The Opposition parties are determined to take the government head-on.
It is in this context that the ruling dispensation not desirous to hold the polls during the Monsoon session of Parliament. The government came out with the agenda during the coming week in Rajya Sabha where there was no mention of the Deputy Chairman's poll. There are exactly nine working days left and senior BJP leaders are saying that there are precedents of the election being delayed.
In April 2012 the post of Deputy Chairman fell vacant during the Budget session in the UPA era when A Rehman Khan retired. But the polls were held during the Monsoon session. Even during the UPA-I in 2006, the polls were also delayed by 40 days. During 2004 there was delay as post fell vacant on June 10 but polls were held on July 2.
The BJP sources say that the panel of presiding officers is already in place and the House can function without a deputy chairman.