Will Nitish Kumar’s ‘ghar wapsi’ in NDA help BJP in Rajya Sabha?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s dramatic ‘ghar wapsi’ in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is likely to change the number game in Rajya Sabha where the ruling BJP is short of numbers.

Nearly four years after he walked out of the NDA in protest against Narendra Modi’s nomination as the prime ministerial candidate, Nitish Kumar’s re-induction will not only strengthen the saffron camp but also help the ruling BJP push several crucial bills pending in the Upper House.

Despite having a brute majority in the Lok Sabha, BJP has been short of numbers in the Upper House, which is required for the smooth passage of several bills in the Upper House.

While Nitish will now be able to run the Bihar government more comfortably, Janata Dal United’s re-entry into the NDA fold will also swell the alliance’ total tally in the Rajya Sabha – a very important development for the BJP-led alliance.

Currently, the JDU has 10 seats in the Rajya Sabha, which takes the combined tally of NDA in the Upper House to 84.

Apart from these, the BJP can also rely on three additional votes from nominated members the President has appointed on its suggestions.

Though Congress (57) and the BJP (57) have equal numbers of seats in the Rajya Sabha, when alliance numbers are tallied, NDA with 85 (+3 nominated seats) is now well ahead of the United Progressive Alliance’s tally of UPA’s 64 (+5 nominated) assuming all those appointed under the UPA regime vote for it.

If we look at the regional parties, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK ), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS ), YSR Congress Party have 13, 8, 3 and 1 seats respectively.

Based on their equation with the ruling BJP, these regional parties are most likely to vote in favor of NDA-backed bills. These regional parties have in past supported the BJP-led alliance and, most recently, during the Presidential elections.

NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind could easily manage to win the presidential elections defeating Opposition’s joint candidate Meira Kumar since BJP was confident of support from these parties.

However, as BJP’s electoral ambitions expand in Odisha and Telangana, support from parties like BJD and TRS would be difficult to garner. Even if we include these members into NDA’s tally, it comes to 113 and stops short of the halfway figure of 123 by 10 seats.

Nonetheless, getting the Janata Dal United back in the alliance has given a much-needed boost to the ruling BJP in the Rajya Sabha, but it will still have to wait for a long time before it can claim the majority and ram it bills through Parliament at will.