India: Amit Shah adds to BJP’s political heft, but not numbers in Rajya Sabha – 9 Aug 2017

  • The victory of BJP President Amit Shah, who makes his debut in Parliament, and Smriti Irani’s re-election from Gujarat give the party political heft in the Rajya Sabha but does not add to its numbers.
  • The Bharatiya Janata Party had already become the single largest group in the Upper House after Vinay Tendulkar won the biennial election from Goa, defeating the Congress’ Shantaram Naik. In a house of 245 members, the BJP now has 58 — one more than the 57 of the Congress at No.2 position.
  • The election of Sonia Gandhi’s political aide Ahmed Patel in a cliffhanger of a contest in Gujarat helped the party and Patel retain the seat and gives no addition to its numbers. For the BJP, Irani retains her seat while Shah would take the place of party member Dilipbhai Pandya who retires on 18 Aug 17.
  • The BJP may have gained in recent elections but the NDA coalition headed by it will still lag behind the opposition in the Rajya Sabha for some time to come. Along with allies, the NDA accounts for 101 members. This figure includes 13 of the AIADMK. To this can be added the new ally JD-U, which has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha.
  • There could be doubts over the loyalty of two members — Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari, who have expressed reservations over their party chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to go with the BJP.
  • Since the 2014 victory in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has a Prime Minister whose party has a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha for the first time in 30 years, besides the President and the Vice President of its choice. But to have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, the party may have to wait for some more time.

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