Rajya Sabha – A numbers game

The BJP has been beset by a strange problem. While it has achieved majorithy in the Lok Sabha, the party has been unable to achieve a majority in the Rajya Sabha. This is unsurprising – after all, the Rajya Sabha members are elected from the states, and considering that the BJP was nearly absent in nearly half the states, the BJP is found to have only about a fifth of the strength in the Rajya Sabha. Can the BJP improve its strength in the Rajya Sabha in the next four and a half years, i.e., before 2019 polls? Let us look at the upcoming vacancies in the Rajya Sabha in the next five years.

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From the above table, one can see the vacancies that are going to occur in the next few years, and how many the BJP can expect to gain.

First a word about the esoteric mechanism for electing Rajya Sabha members from the states. Each vote by a member carries a value of 100. Suppose there are x vacancies in the Rajya Sabha to be filled up by the State Assembly, then the strength of the Assembly is multiplied by 100, and then divided by x+1. The number of votes needed for a member to get elected is given by the formula
Votes needed = [(Assembly Strength*100)/(Number of Vacancies + 1)]+1. How the whole matter is handled in case of surplus votes is best illustrated in this document.

http://www.assembly.tn.gov.in/rajyasabha/archives2013/illustration_286_rajya%20sabha.pdf

But in these days of everyone ganging up against the BJP, it is safe to assume that not many parties will cooperate with the BJP in getting its members into the Rajya Sabha. We shall proceed to examine, state by state, what the BJP can expect to get in the next few years in the Rajya Sabha. We shall also make predictions based on the possible scenarios in the coming elections.

But before we proceed, we outline below the current strengths of the parties in the Rajya Sabha. All data is taken from the official Rajya Sabha web site.

INC – 68
BJP – 43
BSP – 14
TMC – 12
JD(U) – 12
AIADMK – 11
SP – 10
Independents – 9
CPI (M) – 9
BJD – 7
NCP – 6
TDP – 6
DMK – 4
SS – 3
SAD – 3
CPI – 2
INLD – 2
NC – 2
JD(S) – 1
JMM – 1
KC(M) – 1
BPF – 1
SDF – 1
NPF – 1
RJD – 1
RPI (A) – 1
TRS – 1

Currently, the NDA numbers are 59 (56 via parties, and 3 independents elected with support from the BJP). Since we are particularly concerned with the strengths of the NDA, the focus is more on the NDA numbers, than the numbers of the others.

Andhra Pradesh:
Current position: There are 7 MPs due to retire (4 in 2016, and 3 in 2018). Of the 4 retiring in 2016, 2 are from the Congress, 1 from the TDP and 1 from the BJP. Of the ones due to retire in 2018, 2 are from the Congress, and 1 from the TDP. Given the current composition of the Andhra Assembly, TDP + BJP has a strength of 106, and YCP has 67. There are 2 more others, who can presumably be expected to support the NDA in the best case. Of the 4 retiring in 2016, the number of votes needed for victory is 35. The NDA should be able to grab 3 of the four in 2016, and 2 of the 3 in 2018. So, as things stand, net gain for the NDA before 2019 polls is 2 from Andhra Pradesh. Of course, if the YSRCP breaks due to imprisonment of Jagan, all bets are off. Net change for NDA=+2. The Congress is going to lose all 4 seats it is currently holding.

Assam:
Current Status: There are 2 MPs due to retire in 2016. Unfortunately, both are going to retire before the current term of the Assembly expires. Both seats are held by the Congress. With the Congress and their BPF allies holding 90 of the 126 seats in the current Assembly, no change can be expected. Both seats will be retained by the Congress. Net change, none. Congress will hold on to both its seats.

Bihar:
Current Status: There are 11 members due to retire before 2019 (5 in 2016, and 6 in 2018). The current term of the Assembly will have expired before the RS polls are held. Of the 5 retiring in 2016, all 5 are held by the JD(U). Of those retiring in 2018, four are from the JD(U) and 2 from the BJP. In 2016, the number of votes needed to elect a member will be >40.5. If the current status of the Assembly holds, i.e., BJP has 88 members out of 243, the BJP can get 2 members into the RS. If the BJP gets a majority, i.e. 122 seats, the BJP can get 3 of the 5 seats. If the BJP gets a 163 seats (an outlandishly huge figure, one might add – getting 2/3 majority in the Bihar Assembly is a notoriously hard task.), the BJP can get 4 of the 5 seats. The more probably scenarios are either 2 seats, or 3 seats in 2016. In 2018, the number of votes the BJP will need per candidate is 35 votes. If the BJP gets 70 seats, it will get 2, if it gets 105 seats, it will get 3, and if it gets 140 seats, then the BJP is assured of getting 4 seats of the 6. Getting 175 is virtually impossible. Even in the best case, the BJP can expect to get 4 of the 6 seats in the Rajya Sabha in 2018. Assuming the best case, we can say that the BJP gets 7 seats from Bihar before 2019. The BJP already holds 2, so the best case for the BJP is a net gain of 5. Net change for BJP in best case=+5.

Chattisgarh:
Current Status: There are 3 members due to retire before 2019 (2 in 2016, and 1 in 2018). Of the 2 retiring in 2016, one is from the Congress, and one from the BJP. The number of seats needed to elect a member in 2016 is 31, so both parties will retain their seats. The one retiring in 2018 is from the BJP, and the BJP will retain this seat (number of votes needed for this one is 46). Net change for the BJP=0.

Goa:
Current Status: There is 1 member due to retire in 2017. He is from the Congress. The BJP is currently in power in Goa, but the Goa Assembly term will have run out before the retirement of the present member in the Rajya Sabha. If the BJP retains power in Goa (as it should, given that Manohar Parrikar is very popular), it will take the seat. Otherwise, there will be no change. Net change in the best case=+1.

Gujarat:
Current Status: There are 7 members due to retire before 2019 (3 in 2017, 4 in 2018). Of the 3 retiring in 2017, 2 are from the BJP and 1 from the Congress. The number of votes needed to ensure the victory of a candidate is 46. Therefore, the current status will continue in 2017, with both the Congress and the BJP retaining their seats. Of the 4 retiring in 2018, 3 are from the BJP and 1 from the Congress. But by 2018, the current Assembly’s term will have run out. The number of votes needed to ensure the victory of a nominee in 2018 will be 37. As long as the BJP can maintain its current strength, the BJP will retain its seats in Gujarat. However, taking all 4 in Gujarat will require a strength of 148, which is well above what the BJP has ever had. Consequently, the BJP might at best, retain its strength. Net change in best case for BJP by 2019=0.

Haryana:
Current status: There are 3 members scheduled to retire in Haryana, but there is a vacancy currently available. Two members (including the one who will be elected now to fill the vacancy) will be due to retire in 2016, and another member is due to retire in 2018. The immediate vacancy can be filled up with a BJP member immediately, and the other person retiring in 2016 is from the INLD. The number of seats required to win a Rajya Sabha seat in Haryana is 31 in 2016, and 46 in 2018. Given that the BJP has a strength of only 47 and that the INLD and the Congress have 34, it is hard to see the BJP take both in Haryana in 2016. The person retiring in 2018 is from the Congress. So, the BJP is likely to gain 1 immediately, and another 1 in 2018. Net gain by 2019 for the BJP=+2.

Himachal Pradesh:
Current Status: There are 2 members due to retire before 2019, 1 in 2016, and 1 in 2018. Both members due to retire are from the BJP. The BJP is sure to lose the seat it held in 2016 since the Congress is in government there, and unless it can come back to power in 2017 (very possible), will lose the other too. Best case scenario for the BJP by 2019=-1.

Jammu & Kashmir:
Current Status: There are 4 members due to retire by 2015. 2 are from the Congress, and 2 from the National Conference. The number of seats needed to ensure the election of a Rajya Sabha member from Kashmir is 18. The current Assembly’s term will have run out by 2015, and the BJP is almost certain to increase its strength from 11 in the current Assembly. It will be interesting to see if they can reach the magic figure of 36 to get 2 seats (getting 54 seats in Kashmir is impossible for the BJP). If they do (and there is a distant chance they might be able to do it), then the BJP will have gained 2 seats. If not, at least 1 seat is almost certain for the BJP. Best case scenario for the BJP before 2019=+2.

Jharkhand:
Current Status: There are 4 members due to retire by 2019 (2 in 2016, and 2 in 2018). Of the 2 due to retire in 2016, 1 is from the Congress and 1 from the JMM. The current Assembly’s term is due to run out later this year, so the next Assembly will decide the fates of the incumbents. The BJP is certain to increase its strength from the current 18. The number of votes needed to win a Rajya Sabha berth is 28. The BJP is likely to muster that number easily. Whether it can bag both seats (it is quite possible for the BJP to win 56 seats, given the dismal state its opposition is in) remains to be seen. Of the members due to retire in 2018, there is 1 from the Congress, and 1 from the JMM. If the BJP wins both seats in 2016, it will repeat that performance in 2018. In the best case, the BJP can expect to bag all 4 seats from Jharkhand. Net gain in the best case for the BJP by 2019=+4.

Karnataka:
Current Status: There are 8 members due to retire by 2019 (4 in 2016, and 4 in 2018). Of the ones due to retire in 2016, BJP holds 2 seats, 1 seat is held by an independent, and 1 more by the Congress. 45 votes are needed to win a seat in Karnataka. The BJP currently has only 49 members in the Assembly, and consequently, can win only 1 seat. It will lose a seat in 2016. Similarly, the BJP has 2 of the 4 members due to retire in 2018, and can only retain 1 of the 2 seats. Consequently, the net change for the BJP by 2019=-2.

Kerala:
Current status: BJP has nothing, and will get nothing. If BJP can actually manage to get into double digits in the Kerala Assembly in 2016, I will throw a party.

Madhya Pradesh:
Current Status: There are 8 members due to retire by 2019 (3 in 2016, and 5 in 2018). Of the 3 due to retire in 2016, 2 are from the BJP, and 1 from the Congress. The number of seats needed to secure a berth in the Rajya Sabha is 58. The BJP currently has a strength of 165, there are 3 independents and 4 belonging to the BSP, which leads to a strength of 172. The Congress has a strength of 58. If the BJP can ensure 2 more victories in the by-polls, they can bag all the 3 seats. If not, the current 2 for the BJP and 1 for the Congress will be retained. But given that there is only 1 year left and the BSP members are as likely to vote for the Congress as not, it may well be safe to assume that the present standing will be maintained in the Rajya Sabha in 2016. In the best case for the BJP, it will gain 1, else it will remain status quo. In 2018, there are 5 members retiring, so the number of seats required to win a berth is 39. Given that the Congress has only 58 seats, it is likely that the BJP will retain its 4, and the Congress its 1. Net change in the best case for the BJP by 2019=+1.

Maharashtra:
Current Status: There are 12 members scheduled to retire by 2019 (6 in 2016, and 6 in 2018). Of the 6 scheduled to retire in 2016, 2 are from the Congress, 2 are from the NCP, 1 is from the BJP and 1 from the Shiv Sena. 42 seats are required to win a seat in Maharashtra in 2016, so the BJP with its current tally of 123 should be able to get 3 independents to vote with it, and win 3 seats. If it allies with the Shiv Sena, it should be able to win 4 easily. This means a net gain of 2. Of the 6 who are scheduled to retire in 2018, 2 are from the Congress, 2 are from the NCP, 1 from the Shiv Sena and 1 from the BJP. A similar figure as in the previous case should occur in Maharashtra too, so the BJP should be able to win 3 seats, and the Shiv Sena 1. Net change for the BJP by 2019=+4.

Manipur:
Current Status: The BJP has nothing, and is most unlikely to get anything.

Meghalaya:
Current Status: The BJP has nothing, and is most unlikely to get anything.

Mizoram:
Current Status: The BJP has nothing, and is most unlikely to get anything.

Nagaland:
Current Status: The lone seat is held by the NPF, and will be retained by it.

Odisha:
Current Status: The BJP has nothing, and is most unlikely to get anything.

Punjab:
Current Status: All 7 seats of Punjab are up for re-election in 2016. The number of seats needed to win a Rajya Sabha berth in Punjab is 15. Currently, 3 are held by the SAD, 1 by the BJP and 3 by the Congress. The current composition of the Assembly indicates that the same arrangement will continue. Net change for the BJP=0.

Rajasthan:
Current Status: There are 7 seats that are scheduled for re-election by 2019 (4 in 2016, and 3 in 2018). Of the 4 that are up for re-election in 2016, 2 are held by the Congress, and 2 by the BJP (Ram Jethmalani is an independent who is elected with the backing of the BJP). The number of seats that are required for a Rajya Sabha berth in 2016 is 41. The BJP has 160 seats, and has the support of a number of independents. The BJP should be able to take all the 4 in 2016. Of the 3 scheduled to retire in 2018, 2 are from the Congress and 1 from the BJP. The number of seats needed for a Rajya Sabha berth in 2018 are 51. With the BJP having 160 seats, it should be able to easily take all the 3 seats in 2018, netting a gain of 2. Net change for the BJP by 2019=+4.

Sikkim:
Current Status: The BJP has nothing, but can possibly get the SDF into an alliance in the state. The SDF, which should take the RS seat when it comes up for re-election in 2018, faces no problems joining the BJP if need be.

Tamil Nadu:
Current status: There are 6 members are scheduled for re-election by 2019 (all 6 in 2016, after the new Assembly poll). Of the 6 whose re-elections are due, 3 are held by the AIADMK, 2 by the DMK and 1 by the Congress. The number of seats needed to win a Rajya Sabha poll in Tamil Nadu in 2016 is 34. It is most unlikely that the NDA can win 34 seats in Tamil Nadu in 2016 Assembly polls, unless there is a miracle from heaven. I will be delighted if the BJP gets into the 2 figures in Tamil Nadu. Unless there is a miracle from heaven, there will be no change for the BJP. Net change for the BJP in the best (honestly, hilariously optimistic case) for Tamil Nadu=+1.

Telangana:
Current Status: There are 5 members scheduled to face re-election by 2019 (2 in 2016, and 3 in 2018). Of the 2 who are scheduled to face re-election in 2016, 1 is from the Congress and 1 from the TDP. 40 seats are required to win a Rajya Sabha election in 2016, so the TRS is likely to take both seats. The TDP will lose its seat. Of the 3 who are scheduled to face re-election in 2018, there are 2 from the Congress, and 1 from the TDP. The number of seats needed to win a Rajya Sabha seat in 2018 is 30, so, given the understanding between the Congress and the TRS, the TRS will likely bag 2 seats, and the Congress 1. Net change for the NDA by 2019=-2.

Tripura:
Current Status: The BJP has nothing, and will get nothing. The party barely exists in Tripura.

Uttarakhand:
Current Status: There are 3 seats up for re-election by 2019, 1 in 2014, 1 in 2016, and 1 in 2018. Given that the Congress will be in power till at least early 2017, the Congress will gain 2, at least. If the BJP comes to power in early 2017, it can take the seat in 2018. Currently, 1 seat in Uttarakhand is vacant, 1 is with the BJP (coming up for election in 2016) and 1 is with the Congress (coming up for re-election in 2018). Net change for the BJP in the best case=0.

Uttar Pradesh:
Current Status: There are 31 members are scheduled to retire before 2019 (10 in 2014, 11 in 2016, and 10 in 2018). Of the 10 scheduled to retire in 2014, 6 are from the BSP, 2 are independents, 1 is from the BJP, and 1 is from the SP. 37 seats are required to win a Rajya Sabha seat from UP in 2014. The BJP has 38 seats currently in the UP Assembly, so the BJP is well poised to retain its seat. In 2016, out of the 11 seats, the BSP currently holds 6, the SP 3, the BJP 1, and the Congress 1. 34 seats are required to win a Rajya Sabha berth in 2016, so the BJP is poised to once more retain its own seat. In 2018, of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats at stake, the SP holds 6, the BSP 2, the BJP 1, and the Congress 1. Again, 37 seats are required to win a Rajya Sabha seat. It is here that the BJP can make great progress. If the BJP wins a majority in the next Assembly in UP (quite possible, by the way), it can take 6 of the Rajya Sabha seats with 212 seats in the next Assembly. If the BJP gets 250 of the 403 seats, it will take 7 seats. Expecting more than 250 is too ambitious, even by Modi standards in UP. Net change in the best case for the BJP in UP by 2019=+6.

West Bengal:
Current Status: 11 seats are coming up for re-election by 2019 (6 in 2017, and 5 in 2018). Of the 6 seats coming up for re-election in 2017, 4 are held by the TMC, 1 by the Congress, and 1 by the CPM. The number of seats needed to win a Rajya Sabha berth in 2017 is 43. The BJP has been showing great promise in West Bengal. Assuming that the BJP gets 43 seats in the next WB Assembly election, it is possible to get 1 seat. Similarly, in 2018, the number of seats needed to win a Rajya Sabha seat will be 50. Of the 5 seats up for re-election in 2018, 4 are held by the TMC and 1 by the CPM. If the BJP gets 50 seats, then it can get 1 seat. This would be a best case scenario. Net change for the BJP in the best case in West Bengal by 2019=+2.

National Capital Territory of Delhi:
Current Status: There are 3 seats coming up for re-election in 2018. All 3 are held by the Congress. The number of seats needed to win the Rajya Sabha poll in 2018 in Delhi are 18. Assuming that the BJP can get 36 seats in the coming Assembly elections in Delhi, it can win 2 of the 3 seats. Net change for the BJP in the best case for 2019=+2.

Edited: Delhi apparently gives all 3 Rajya Sabha seats to the winner in the Assembly elections. So, if BJP forms the government in Delhi, it is likely to get all 3 seats, not 2 as predicted above. (This was pointed out by an observant reader, Karan. Thanks to him.)

Pondicherry:
Current Status: There is 1 seat coming up for re-election in 2015, and it is held by the Congress. But considering that Pondicherry has been ruled by an NDA constituent, the NDA can expect to win this seat. Net change by 2019 for the BJP=+1.

Nominated:
There are 11 nominated seats who will have to be replaced (2 in 2015, 5 in 2016, and 4 in 2018). All of them, one assumes, will be replaced by BJP friendly people. Net change by 2019 for BJP=+11.

Adding up all the best cases for the BJP (a hilariously optimistic prediction), we get the following changes. 2 in Andhra Pradesh, 5 in Bihar, 1 in Goa, 2 in Haryana, -1 in Himachal Pradesh, 2 in Jammu and Kashmir, 4 in Jharkhand, -2 in Karnataka, 1 in Madhya Pradesh, 4 in Maharashtra, 4 in Rajasthan, 1 in Tamil Nadu, -2 in Telangana, 6 in Uttar Pradesh, 2 in West Bengal, 3 in Delhi, and 1 in Pondicherry. Apart from that, there will be 11 Nominated members sympathetic to the BJP. This brings the NDA tally to 32 bonus members for the NDA and 11 nominated members who are sympathetic. This basically means that the NDA, which currently has a strength of 61 at the current moment (including sympathetic independents), will have a tally of 94 by the end of the term. If one adds the 11 Nominated members, the NDA will have 105 members working for it. The majority needed for the NDA in the Rajya Sabha is 123. Even at the end of the term, with all the sympathetic Independents and Nominated members, the NDA will still not have a majority.

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7 thoughts on “Rajya Sabha – A numbers game

  1. So whatever the present Govt want to pass a bill will not be possible in next 5 years.Good. The opposition can stall any bill good or bad.Wonderful system !! Isn’t it? Here is the treat for democracy that a ruling party can not fulfill their manifesto.This is because,there are un countable political parties are allowed to compete.There should be only two national parties in the field to compete.This will avoid the dead lock in governance , eliminate communal parties, state oriented parties(separatists) and eliminate horse trading to form coalition majority.

  2. The members of rajya sabha of each state should end along with assembly tenure of the state and should hold office for 6 years as available to Jammu&Kashmir. This will truly reflect the WILL of the state in Rajya sabha.
    V.Viswanathan

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