UP victory won't shift Rajya Sabha power equation towards BJP. Here's why
Contrary to popular perception, the BJP's spectacular performance in the just concluded elections to five states won't improve the party's tally in the Rajya Sabha by much.
In the Upper House, the NDA is currently 34 seats short of the halfway mark. And across the five states, only 13 seats will be up for grabs before 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Take a look at the current composition of the Rajya Sabha.
So, to reach the halfway mark of 123, the NDA needs 34 more members.
Of the 13 seats for which elections will be held before the 2019 Lok Sabha election, 10 are in Uttar Pradesh and one each in Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa. Since the BJP is virtually tied with the Congress in both Manipur and Goa assemblies, it cannot take their two Rajya Sabha seats for granted. That leaves the party with 11 seats.
While the Manipur seat is vacant, the one in Goa is now held by the Congress and won't open up until July this year.
Uttarakhand has three Upper House seats, all with the Congress. One falls vacant in May 2018, but the others are not due for election until mid-2022.
Similarly, Punjab's seven seats won't go to polls sooner than April-July 2022. Currently, the BJP holds one of them while its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, occupies three. The rest are with the Congress.
That leaves only UP for the BJP to build up its numbers in the Rajya Sabha. The country's largest state has 31 seats in the Upper House; 10 are due for election in April 2018, 10 in November 2020 and 11 in July 2022.
The MPs whose fates will be decided in 2018 are Naresh Agrawal, Jaya Bachchan, Kiranmay Nanda, Chaudhary Munabbar Salim, Alok Tiwari, Darshan Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party; Mayawati, Munquad Ali of the Bahujan Samaj Party; Pramod Tiwari of the Congress; and Vinay Katiyar of the BJP.
In this UP assembly, the opposition parties together have 78 seats. It's not likely then that the BJP will win all 10 seats. In all, the party can expect to win a maximum of nine seats across the five states. That still leaves the NDA 25 short of the majority.
Outside these five states, 67 Rajya Sabha berths fall vacant before the 2019 Lok Sabha election – 11 in West Bengal; seven in Gujarat; six in Bihar; four each in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh; three each in Kerala, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi, Telangana; two in Jharkhand; one each in Haryana, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh. Four nominated members will also complete their terms in this period.
The BJP holds 18 of these seats now. Of the rest, 30 are in states ruled by non-NDA parties with significant majorities. That leaves the NDA with a fighting chance on about 20 seats.
This means that the NDA is unlikely to secure a majority in the Rajya Sabha before the Narendra Modi regime's term expires in 2019.
That's not to say the results of this round of assembly elections won't have much impact at the Centre. In fact, the reconfiguration of the Upper House, although not dramatic, would impact the upcoming elections for President and Vice President.
Impact on presidential election
The TRS, which governs Telangana, is not part of the NDA but supports it on most issues. It is, in fact, closer to the formation than the AIADMK and the BJD, the former allies that lend issue-based support to the NDA even though they are often in disagreement with the BJP. All three are likely to support the Modi regime in the presidential election scheduled for completion before 25 July 2017.
The President is elected through a complex system of proportional representation, the formula for which is laid out in Article 55 of the Constitution. The votes are cast by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of the parliament, the elected members of the legislative assemblies of all states as well as the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
As of 2017, the electoral college comprises of 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs. After the latest round of assembly elections, at least 423 of these MPs and 1,650 MLAs belong to the NDA. The support of the numerically strong TRS, AIADMK and BJD will increase this tally significantly, putting the NDA in a commanding position to see its candidate elected as the next President.
Impact on vice presidential election
The impact on the election of vice president, to be held by 10 August 2017, is likely to be similar. The Vice President is chosen by an electoral college consisting of members of both houses of the parliament and follows the proportional representation system. With its brute majority in the Lok Sabha, the NDA is comfortably placed to get its candidate elected. A rise in its Rajya Sabha tally will only strengthen its position.