The BJP, by nominating Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh Narayan Singh as the candidate for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman post, has given a very positive sign to its allies. The clear winner from this situation would be BJP as by offering the seat to JDU it has signalled its intent towards Nitish Kumar that the alliance is not under any threat from their side. BJP which does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, offering up the position to JDU also sends a clear message of unity to the other parties. The Chief Minister of Bihar and Janata Dal United leader Nitish Kumar has now taken up the task of ensuring his party’s minister winning the post. According to news reports, Nitish Kumar has assumed the role of an ally-maker and has started approaching non-NDA and non-Congress allies for supporting the candidature of his minister to the Deputy Chairman post. This is a welcome change considering just a few months back there were rumours surrounding Nitish leaving NDA coalition and of him breaking ties with the BJP in Bihar.
A JDU candidate for the Deputy Chairman post has encouraged Nitish Kumar to a great extent and he is going all out to garner the maximum support he can from other non-aligned parties. Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal from Odisha and Telangana Rashtra Samiti from Telangana headed by K Chandrashekhar Rao are two parties which are not aligned with NDA or the opposition. Nitish Kumar on Tuesday reached out to both BJD and TRS leaders respectively asking for support for his party’s minister.
Speaking about the request received from Nitish Kumar, BJD spokesperson Dr Sasmit Patra said that “Naveen Patnaik received a call from Nitish Kumar earlier in the day. Kumar had supported BJD’s nominee for President PA Sangma in 2012. The Bihar Chief Minister now seeks support for the JD(U) party candidate to assume the post of Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha”. BJD has nine Members of Parliaments in the Rajya Sabha and their support will be crucial for the NDA or the opposition.
TRS President KCR too received a call from Nitish Kumar on Tuesday morning asking for support in the voting for the JDU candidate. According to reports coming from Rao’s office, Rao made clear that the support of TRS would be assured only after a consultation with the leaders of the party.
BJP has 73 members in the Rajya Sabha and it needs atleast 50 more to reach the majority of 123 to make its candidate win. The JDU, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal have three members each which take the tally up to 85. BJP still needs the support of AIADMK, BJD, TRS and YSR Congress along with the votes of nominated and independent members which are affiliated with the party to reach the 123 mark. TRS with six MPs will play an important role in the equations to securing the Deputy Chairman post.
Nitish Kumar’s bid to woo these non-aligned parties over to the NDA will also prove beneficial for the BJP which can then go on and ask them to join the NDA formally ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Both TRS and BJD have given hints of being opposed to the Congress and the supposed Third Front. Supporting the JDU candidate would further embolden this perception and with these leaders joining the NDA, the BJP will have a lot to cheer for ahead of the all important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.