NDA win bares ‘united’ Opp’s Achilles’ heel
Chinks in the Opposition camps were exposed on Thursday as a full-strength NDA ensured comfortable victory for its candidate Harivansh against BK Hariprasad of the Congress in the election to the Deputy Chairman’s post of the Rajya Sabha.
Incidentally, 3 Congress MPs, 3 SP MPs and 2 TMC members were absent during voting. In addition, all three AAP MPs were absent during the voting on the ground that Congress president Rahul Gandhi did not even reach out to Arvind Kejriwal. Two members each of the DMK and the PDP were not present during the voting. One RS member of NPF too was absent, thus taking the total number of absentees to 16. Besides, 2 members of the YRS Congress abstained from voting.
Bitter over not being asked by the Congress to vote in favour of Opposition candidate, AAP Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh said, “The Congress is the biggest hurdle to Opposition unity. How will he (Congress chief Rahul Gandhi) ensure the victory of his candidate if he cannot ask for votes.”
“AAP appreciated that at least Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had called party chief Arvind Kejriwal, seeking support for his JD(U) colleague Harivansh. If Nitish could ask for support for his candidate, why not Rahul,” Singh stated.
However, the Opposition camp also tried to put up a bold face despite the setback. “We still are united in our opposition to the BJP and NDA. Today’s result shows the desperation of the Government. The PM had to be on phone to get votes for the NDA candidate. The election is certainly not the end of the world for us. These are just the warm up matches for the world cup and it should be played and there the voters are different,” said TMC leader Derek O’Brien.
The success of the BJP in winning over the BJD and TRS in the election is seen as a big blow to the Opposition’s attempts to forge an anti-BJP front. The BJP was also successful in persuing its sulking ally Shiv Sena to bury the differences.
This is also seen as major development in the background of the fact that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had repeatedly said it would go alone in Maharashtra in the 2019 general elections.
With 232 members present out of the effective strength of 244 voting, NDA candidate Harivansh comfortably sailed through with 125 votes, BK Hariprasad managed to get support of 105 members. Union Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley attended the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the first time after undergoing a kidney transplant in May and cast his vote.
Most Opposition leaders felt their candidate could have got more votes had the Congress nominated a member from any of its supporting parties, even as they asserted that the NDA candidate's victory was not a setback to their unity efforts against the BJP.
There was jubilation in the BJP camp after it managed to get the better of the Opposition in the number game in the Rajya Sabha.
BJP spokesperson and former Union Minister Shahnawaz Hussain said that the victory of Harivansh has proved that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an upper hand in the Upper House now and the cheap politics of Congress is over in the Rajya Sabha too.
The BJD and the TRS had chosen to abstain during the voting in the Lok Sabha on the no-confidence motion against the Government on July 20 but decided to back the NDA for the Deputy Chairman Post.
The decision of the two parties is also significant as the BJP has emerged as the main challenger to Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik while TRS supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was till recently exploring the possibility of a federal front of regional parties against the BJP.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had called up Patnaik to seek his party's support for Harivansh followed by a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Patnaik which sealed the deal. BJP leaders believe that cordial ties with non-NDA parties may come handy for the party after 2019 elections in case its tally fell below the majority mark. While Rao had last week met Modi following which TRS sources said their party was open to a post-poll tie-up with the BJP in 2019.
Though the Opposition is putting up a brave face, murmurs of dissatisfaction could be heard in the galleries of Parliament with some leaders questioning why Rahul Gandhi did not reach out to parties like the AAP, which could have extended support.
Also, some leaders are of the opinion that a Congress member as Opposition candidate closed the chances of getting votes from some parties who didn't wish to be seen close to any camp.
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