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Polls to 55 Rajya Sabha Seats: NDA may lose 4 to 5 seats while UPA may gain 3 seats

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The biennial elections to 55 Rajya Sabha seats from 17 states are due later this month. 25 of these seats are currently held by the NDA while 18 are held by the UPA. The current assembly composition of these 17 states indicates that while the NDA may lose 4-5 seats, the UPA may gain around 3 seats.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued notification for Biennial Elections to the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) to fill the seats of the members who would be retiring in April-2020. These elections will be contested for 55 seats across 17 states. The previous biennial elections were conducted in March 2018 and since then 14 states went to the polls, resulting in significant change in the composition of the respective state assemblies. The changes in the strength of various political parties in the state assemblies could be reflected in their respective strength in the Rajya Sabha. Here is an explainer on how the strength of parties/coalitions could change after these elections.

It has to be noted that the elections for Rajya Sabha follow the system of proportional representation by means of Single Transferable Vote (STV). Factly’s detailed explainer on the process of the Rajya Sabha (RS) elections can be read here.

What is the current strength of political parties in the Rajya Sabha?

For the purpose of this analysis, the following parties & coalitions are considered. Some of these parties are tagged as others since their support to the government has varied from issue to issue. It has to be noted that these projections are purely based on the strength of the respective coalitions in the state assemblies. Things could change based on local alliances, support to independent candidates etc.

NDA currently has 111 members in the Rajya Sabha and UPA’s strength is 69.  Another 58 members belong to parties which are not part of any of these alliances. Some of these parties have supported or opposed the government on various occasions.

BJP, which has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha has 82 members in the Rajya Sabha and was able to push through few critical bills with the support of its NDA allies and few other parties. The upcoming biennial elections to 55 seats could alter the strength of these alliances. The current strength of the alliances in these 55 seats is given below.

Here is a state by state look at probable changes in the Rajya Sabha composition post these elections.

Andhra Pradesh (No. of Vacancies – 4)

INC held two of these four seats. However, with no seats in AP legislative assembly, it is set to lose the two seats. TRS and TDP have held one seat each. Since TRS has no presence in AP, it will lose this seat. Based on its current strength of 23 MLAs , even TDP is set to lose its seat. YSRCP which won a landslide victory in the recent AP Assembly elections with 151 seats, would be winning all the 4 seats. The YSRCP is officially not with any of the alliances.

Net Gain : NDA (0), UPA  (-2), Others (+2)

Assam (No. of Vacancies – 3)

2 of these seats were held by INC and the other by NDA ally BPF (Bodoland People’s Front). However, with its current strength, the INC would be able to retain only one seat, that too with the support of AIUDF. The NDA could win two seats with its current strength.

Net Gain : NDA (+1), UPA (-1), Others (0)

Bihar (No. of Vacancies -5)

All these 5 seats are held by NDA today of which BJP has two seats and JDU has 3 seats. In view of the current strength in the state assembly, the BJP along with JD(U) can win 3 seats. The remaining two seats might go to the UPA led by the RJD.

Net Gain : NDA (-2) , UPA (+2)

Chhattisgarh (No. of Vacancies- 2)

BJP and INC hold one seat each currently. With its current strength in the assembly, INC is set to win both the Rajya Sabha seats from the state.

Net Gain : NDA (-1), UPA (+1), Others (0)

Gujarat (No. of Vacancies – 4)

BJP holds 3 of the 4 seats which are up for elections. However, with the fall in their numbers in the current assembly compared to the earlier one, they are likely to retain only 2 seats. Meanwhile, INC may improve its tally to 2 from the existing one seat.  

Net Gain: NDA (-1), UPA(+1), Others (0)

Haryana (No. of Vacancies -2)

INC and INLD currently share the two seats. With only 1 assembly seat, INLD is set to lose their Rajya Sabha. The BJP will be able to win one while the INC may retain its seat.

Net Gain : NDA (+1), UPA(0), Others (-1)

Himachal Pradesh (No. of Vacancies -1)

INC which currently holds the one seat up for election in Himachal Pradesh is set to lose the seat and BJP would be gaining it.

Net Gain : NDA (+1), UPA (-1), Others (0)

Jharkhand (No. of Vacancies – 2)

RJD holds one of the seats and the other seat is held by an independent. JMM, which is now part of the UPA will be able to win one of the seats while the BJP has enough MLAs along with JVM(P) to win another seat. However, the NDA won’t gain since the Independent was supporting the BJP. UPA also won’t gain any seat since the RJD’s seat is going to JMM.

Net Gain : NDA (0), UPA (0), Others (0)

Madhya Pradesh (No. of Vacancies – 3)

BJP currently holds 2 of the three seats while the INC holds one. INC which has majority of the seats in MP assembly, will win 2 seats i.e. a gain of one seat while the BJP will win the remaining.

Net Gain : NDA (-1), UPA (+1), Others (0)

Maharashtra (No. of Vacancies – 7)

In line with the complex post-poll alliance following the Maharashtra assembly elections in 2019, the Rajya Sabha elections can as well throw up complex equations. NCP currently holds 2 of the seven and the other three major parties of BJP, INC and Shiv Sena have a seat each. RPI(A), an NDA ally has one seat while the last one is held by an Independent who supported the BJP. In other words, the NDA currently holds three and the UPA holds four considering that the Shiv Sena is currently part of the UPA.  In view of the current coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP and INC , the three parties could win a total of 4 seats. BJP can win the rest of 3 seats.

Net Gain : NDA (0), UPA (0), Others (0)

Manipur (No. of Vacancies – 1)

BJP would be able to retain the Rajya Sabha seat in Manipur it currently holds.

Net Gain : NDA (0), UPA(0), Others(0)

Meghalaya (No. of Vacancies -1)

INC with only 19 seats in Meghalaya Legislative assembly would be losing the Rajya Sabha seat to NPP, who is an NDA ally. Hence there will be a net gain of one seat to the NDA.

Net Gain : NDA (+1), UPA (-1), Others (0)

Odisha (No. of Vacancies-4)

Currently, BJD holds 3 of the 4 seats while the INC holds the remaining seat. The BJD can comfortably retain 3 of the seats. It is difficult to guess the winner of the remaining seat since no party has enough numbers to win this seat in its own. The fourth seat could either go to BJD or the BJP. INC is not a position to retain its lone seat.

Net Gain : NDA (0 or +1), UPA(-1), Others(0 or +1)

Rajasthan (No. of Vacancies – 3)

BJP currently holds all the 3 Rajya Sabha seats. Since the INC won the 2018 assembly elections in Rajasthan, it would be able to win 2 seats while the BJP can retain only one seat.

Net Gain: NDA (-2), UPA(+2), Others(0)

Tamil Nadu (No. of Vacancies – 6)

AIADMK, an ally of the NDA currently holds 4 of the 6 seats up for election. DMK and CPI(M) hold the other two seats.  Based on the current numbers in Tamil Nadu legislative assembly, AIADMK and DMK are set to share the 6 seats with 3 seats each. DMK is a part of the UPA.

Net Gain : NDA (-1), UPA (+2), Others (-1)

Telangana  (No. of Vacancies – 2)

BJP and INC currently hold one each of the two Rajya Sabha seats up for elections from Telangana. The TRS has a comfortable majority in the assembly and will be able to win both these seats.

Net Gain : NDA (-1), UPA (-1), Others (+2)

West Bengal  (No. of Vacancies – 5)

TMC currently holds 4 of the 5 seats up for election while the remaining seat is held by an Independent who was earlier part of the CPI(M). The TMC will be able to retain all these four seats. INC has a greater chance of winning the last seat.

Net Gain : NDA (0), UPA(+1), Others (-1)

NDA’s strength might be reduced by 4 to 5 seats

While BJP and NDA had a thumping victory in the Lok Sabha elections, their performance in the assembly elections over the past 18 months was not on par with the performance in Lok Sabha elections. Consequently, they lost many states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand & Maharashtra to the opposition. This decreased strength in the state assemblies could reflect in the results to the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha.

Out of the 55 seats on offer, the NDA could win 20 or 21 which is a net loss of 4 to 5 seats from its previous tally. The UPA could win 21 of the 55 seats which is a net gain of 3 seats. The other parties could win 13 or 14 seats which is a net gain of 1 to 2 seats.

The net gain of other parties is not significant since the gains made by parties like the YSRCP & TRS are offset by the losses of the Communist parties.

The next set of biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha will take place in 2022 by which time assembly elections will take place in the States of Bihar, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu & West Bengal. Whether the NDA will be able to offset losses in other states will largely depend on its performance in these states.

Featured Image: Polls to 55 Rajya Sabha Seats

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