Close race for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman

The BJP, the largest party, and the Opposition are aiming to poach MPs
The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha will be elected on August 9, House Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu announced here on Monday. While the Opposition has a slight edge over the ruling BJP and its allies, the outcome will be too close to call, with both sides attempting to poach members.
According to sources, the Opposition is in talks with NDA ally Shiv Sena, which has been vocal in its differences with the ruling BJP and did not vote during last month’s no-confidence motion. The Sena has three members. The BJP in turn will try to break the Opposition ranks in a battle where every vote counts.
Mr. Naidu’s announcement took Opposition leaders by surprise as they had expected the government to put off the election. The post had fallen vacant after P.J. Kurien retired on June 30. The Nationalist Congress Party’s Vandana Chavan and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Tiruchi Siva are front runners from the Opposition. Though there has been no formal announcement, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar informally told Opposition leaders that first-time JD(U) MP Harivansh will be the NDA candidate.
Following the announcement, floor leaders of Opposition parties met on Monday evening. An erstwhile BJP ally, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was a significant presence at the meeting. Another regional player, the YSR Congress from Andhra Pradesh, has announced it will vote against the party.
The Rajya Sabha’s strength is 244. If the entire house votes, the winner needs a minimum of 122 votes. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that there will be no whip from any party. According to sources, at least one member each from Trinamool Congress and Rashtriya Janata Party may vote for the ruling party.
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