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Numbers in Rajya Sabha may hobble NDA

BJPThe Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance’s political management skills may be put to the test in the Rajya Sabha if it manages to form the next government. With just 64 members in a House of 240, the NDA may find it difficult to get its legislative agenda through in Parliament.

While no single political party has managed a simple majority in the Lok Sabha since 1989, the situation has prevailed in the Rajya Sabha for a longer period.

The situation for the NDA is not going to change in the foreseeable future. Only 23 vacancies, including two nominated members, will open from now till the end of 2015. But the BJP has no chance of benefiting, as the openings are all from States in which it has marginal or no presence. A simple majority in the Upper House is crucial for any government to carry out its legislative agenda and so no ruling party can govern effectively without cooperation from both friendly parties and the principal Opposition.

The UPA, despite its strength of 102 in the Upper House, had to lean heavily on the BJP in getting some key Bills related to economic reforms. With 64 members in the House, the BJP-led NDA is 57 members short of the 121 required for a simple majority.

Besides the existing five vacancies, 12 new vacancies will open up in 2014. Seven of these vacancies will arise in Uttar Pradesh, two in Karnataka and one each in Uttarakhand, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

Support of regional and smaller parties is crucial. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has 10 members as against 12 of the Trinamool Congress, 14 of the Bahujan Samaj Party, nine of the Samajwadi Party, six of the Biju Janata Dal, nine of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and two of the Communist Party of India.

The UPA could not push through several important Bills as the principal Opposition party did not support them. These include the direct tax code and goods and services tax Bills and a slew of anti-graft legislation.

Once the 15th Lok Sabha is dissolved, 68 Bills will lapse. At the moment 60 Bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha. These include the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, the Higher Education and Research Bill, and the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill.