Rajya Sabha polls: Congress footprint set to shrink, Punjab show adds to AAP tally

After having suffered a humiliating defeat in the Assembly elections, the Congress’s ability to negotiate with some of the regional parties will be put to test soon in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections. One of the major changes in the composition of the Upper House will be the big jump in the tally of Aam Aadmi Party bolstered by its landslide victory in Punjab.

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But that is not all. The BJP, which has 97 seats now, will cross the 100 mark later this year. The Shiromani Akali Dal, which suffered a rout in Punjab, will have no representation in Rajya Sabha soon as all its three members are retiring. The BSP, which was washed out in Uttar Pradesh, too, will have only one member left.

Seven members from Punjab — three each from the Congress and the Akali Dal and one from the BJP — will be retiring in April and July. Elections for five of these seats have already been announced and the AAP will win all five. The party will secure the two remaining seats too, later. With that, the AAP’s tally will go up from 3 to 10, making it the 5th largest party in the House.

Explained

The number game

The Congress has 34 members in the Upper House, of which 13 are retiring in April and July. However, the party has numbers in various states to get as many as nine seats. So, the party’s strength will come down from 34 to 30. But it can win two more seats, one with AIUDF support in Assam and another in Tamil Nadu with the DMK backing.

The BSP has three members and two of them — Ashok Siddharth, and Satish Chandra Misra — are retiring, leaving the party with only one member in the House. With all the three Akali Dal members — Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Naresh Gujral – retiring, the party will have no member left in the Upper House.

Politically, it would be interesting to watch out for the Congress’s maneuvering skills. The party now has 34 members, of which 13 are retiring. Those retiring include Deputy leader Anand Sharma, A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Vivek Tankha, Jairam Ramesh, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni. The party has numbers in various states to get as many as nine seats.

So, the party’s strength will come down from 34 to 30. But it can win a couple more if it reaches out to some of the regional parties. The party does not have the numbers to get one seat in Assam but if it manages to elicit the support of the AIUDF, it can get one seat. The party has 28 MLAs in Assam and it needs the support of 14 MLAs to get one seat. The AIUDF has 16 MLAs. But the Congress broke its ties with its ally AIDUF after the Assembly elections. It will be interesting to see whether the party will reach out to the AIUDF and seek its support.

In Tamil Nadu, six members are retiring. The Congress hopes that the DMK would give it one seat.

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