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Why 10 Rajya Sabha MPs quit in 45 days during Parliament’s budget session

In a span of 45 days, 10 Rajya Sabha MPs resigned and joined the BJP.

, TIMESOFINDIA.COM|
Aug 19, 2019, 12.36 PM IST
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(This story originally appeared in on Aug 19, 2019)
After the 17th Lok Sabha election, the BJP has grown stronger not just in the Lower House but also in the Rajya Sabha. During the budget session, which concluded earlier this month, the strength of the BJP is set to grow by 10 MPs who resigned from opposition parties.

On the other hand, not a single Lok Sabha MP resigned in the same period.

On June 20, four of the six Rajya Sabha MPs of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), including party chief N Chandrababu Naidu's close confidantes YS Chowdary and CM Ramesh, joined the BJP.

On June 26, the lone MP of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) Ram Kashyap joined the BJP.

On July 15, Neeraj Shekhar, son of former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar, was the first to quit the Samajwadi Party (SP) and join the BJP. He has been fielded in the Rajya Sabha bypoll in Uttar Pradesh.

On July 31, Congress MP Sanjay Sinh quit both the party and his Rajya Sabha seat to join the BJP.

On August 2, second SP MP Surendra Singh Nagar resigned from the Rajya Sabha and later joined the BJP. His Rajya Sabha term ended in 2022.

On August 5, in a major embarrassment for the Congress, its chief whip in Rajya Sabha, Bhubhaneshwar Kalita, quit the party and his Upper House seat just ahead of the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.

The same day, the third SP MP Sanjay Seth too resigned from the Rajya Sabha and the party. He too joined the BJP on August 10 along with Nagar.

Seth's resignation came as a major jolt to the SP because he was not just the party's national treasurer but was also considered close to the Yadav family.

In a span of 45 days, 10 Rajya Sabha MPs resigned and joined the BJP.

What BJP gets
The BJP enjoys an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha with 303 of the 543 MPs belonging to it. Along with its NDA partners, it has 353 MPs in the Lower House, which is almost two-thirds majority.

In such a scenario, the BJP is in a comfortable position to get bills, including constitution amendment bills which require two-thirds majority, passed.

However, the ruling party does not have majority in the 225-member Rajya Sabha.

The BJP desperately needs the numbers in the Rajya Sabha. At the start of the last budget session, the BJP had 73 MPs in the Upper House. After four MPs of the TDP and the lone MP of INLD joined it, the party's number rose to 78 by the time the house adjourned sine die on August 7.

However, its number is set to increase to 83 after the five MPs who had resigned get reelected in the course of time.

Alongwith its NDA partners, its strength was 100 and which grew to 105 after the defections. Their tally is likely to touch 110 after the bypolls are held. This would still be three short of the majority mark of 113.

But the BJP did not get the support of all its ally, Nitish Kumar-led Nitish Kumar, on at least two occasions - during voting on the triple talaq bill, popularly known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill and Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill.

Both the bills, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, sailed through due to the help the BJP got from non-allies parties such as the BSP, YSRCP, BJD, TRS, TDP and AIADMK.

While the triple talaq bill passed with 99 votes in favour and 84 against, the bill on Jammu and Kashmir got the support of 125 MPs and 61 voting against it.

The BJP is in a hurry to cross 123 and even touch two-thirds majority to ensure that crucial bills do not face difficulty in seeing the light of day.

On the other hand, the strength of the Congress-led Opposition has weakened roughly to 100 with the main opposition party having 46 MPs.

What defectors get
The MPs who have resigned from other parties to join the BJP do not get much. However, they have one solace that they represent the ruling parties.

Secondly, in bypolls they have an assurance that they would get reelected in the Rajya Sabha bypolls because of the indirect election. The candidates fielded by parties ruling in the states have better prospects to get elected.

This is unlike the Lok Sabha election where the voters directly elect candidates. This makes the result unpredictable.

Therefore, while not a single Lok Sabha MP from the opposition parties has resigned to join the BJP, 10 of the Rajya Sabha have quit to join the ruling party in the last couple of months.

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