Last twelve months or so have not been encouraging for the single largest party in LS, BJP for it got a mixed mandate in all polled states combined. However it has enjoyed little bouts of joy, primarily at the expense of congress. On the other hand, call it misfortune or poor poll management skills, poor show continued for the congress much to their dismay. The bad luck that they saw in state elections spilled over to Rajya Sabha nomination and electioneering as well, which is rare, because everything can be calculated prior to voting for the upper house.
On expected lines, Congress won the sole seat in Uttarakhand. The major setback they faced was in Jharkhand where JMM leader Basant Soren could not get elected to Rajya Sabha due to some ensuing miscalculations at the end, and the tussle saw BJP man Mahesh Poddar being handed over the baton. Though a lot of actions taken in the run up to election to sway the political balance are not pure as white, credit has to go to BJP strategists to clinch this victory which appends to their growing clout and reach in the upper house. Same goes to the Congress political strategists as well; to make 8 JD(S) rebels discredit the party whip and vote for Congress backed candidate. Though Rajya Sabha elections were somewhat straight, with changing political equations the uprightness of the upper house is being smeared by political filth.
To summarise the events in preceding ten to fifteen days; BJP has gained an upper hand, at least over the principal opponent Congress. BJP now has 74 seats as opposed to 71 by Congress in the 245 member house with 12 nominations.
With proportionate representation voting system at play in electing Rajya Sabha, the process is a bit convoluted compared to the first-past-the-post at work in other elections (for e.g. in LS). Roughly we can understand the process as a simple one – which elects members, numbers of which is proportional to the strength of a faction in state assembly. More on the proportionate representation system later, but it sometimes give an unfair advantage to the majority party (in short term at least). This unfair advantage saw the sole seat in Uttarakhand going to Congress where their numbers are slightly higher than opposition combined. With BJP having 160 out of 200 in Rajasthan, it was inevitable that the 4 seats go to them. The remaining 40 seats which were not represented in Rajya Sabha election process will get a chance in the next election probably.
Nirmala Sitharaman, who has been instrumental in upholding trade practises as a minister in Ministry in Commerce and trade, was elected from Rajya Sabha with 3 Congress MPs.
A lot of horse trading must have gone behind the screen to make the 8 rebel JD(S) MLAs vote for the third Congress candidate who appeared less likely to get elected otherwise. With the exception of Karnataka Congress, it is important to note and interesting to see that leaders are fast leaving the sinking ship of Congress. With BJP flexing its muscles it is inevitable the most sensitive batch flocks to the powerful to have itself survived in the political slugfest.
True to its nature, Samajwadi Party resorted to violence and clashed with BJP members in the state of UP; the only place where SP enjoys a clout. SP members allegedly blocked voting by opposition creating disruptions and seeing sparks fly. A major setback for Congress in UP would be to see only 25 of its MLAs having caste their ‘first preference’ votes for the INC nominate Kapil Sibal, despite having larger numbers, which stands at 29. As the Rajya Sabha voting drama unfolded, 14 votes of Congress members in Haryana were cancelled because they did not comply (deliberately?) with the correct rules for voting.
These instances are nothing but examples of the opposition being desperate to block BJP and the weaker ones flocking to the latter’s fold. Congress party is seeing a decline, not just in the electorate which reflects popularity; but for the first time in the arena of party discipline and loyalty. Loyalty to the congress party has always been the criteria for leaders to come up the ladder. With a section of its members openly up in arms disobeying the party leadership, probably the spate of rebellion has started. It may not be far when an internal voice from within the Congress party will stop meowing and instead roar to throw the dynasty out. Though the chance of any such activity happening soon is bleak, for the symptoms include Rahul Gandhi getting a bigger role in the party; next 5 – 6 years might change the grand old party of India for the good, and for betterment of democracy.