The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are expected to win most of the vacancies that will arise in the Rajya Sabha in April when the term of 51 members comes to an end in April, although both parties will see their strength diminished marginally.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) are expected to make significant gains in the 245-member House.
The change in composition, however, is unlikely to worry the BJP, which still does not have a majority in the upper house (nor doe the larger NDA grouping it leads). However, this has not stopped the party from pushing through laws in the Rajya Sabha, thanks to support from parties such as the Biju Janata Dal and the YSRCP.
The BJP, which has 82 members in the house, is expected to add 13 members (four down from the 18 it has among the 51). The BJD is likely to win two seats of the three vacancies from Odisha, the BJP will get one. In Andhra Pradesh, the YSRCP will pocket all four seats falling vacant in April.
The BJP will also add one seat each from Himachal Pradesh and Haryana to its tally.
The Congress, which has 46 members, is likely to get 10 seats in the upcoming elections. The party will see 11 of its members retiring in April.
According to the list of upcoming retirements put out by the Rajya Sabha, there will be seven vacancies from Maharashtra, six from Tamil Nadu, five each from Bihar and West Bengal, four each from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, three each from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telengana and Odisha, two each from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and one each from Assam, Manipur, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
According to a senior BJP functionary, the party is confident of sending two members to the Upper House from Maharashtra, where it failed to form the government, after its oldest ally, the Shiv Sena broke ranks following a disagreement over seat sharing.
While the Shiv Sena is expecting one seat, its ruling alliance partners — the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress — will get two and one each respectively. Ramdas Athwale of the Republican Party of India (RPI), a BJP ally, is likely to get another six-year term.
In West Bengal, the TMC is expected to win four seats against the five vacancies. The Congress has hinted that it will support Sitaram Yechury’s candidacy if the Communist Party of India (Marxist) fields him.
In Bihar, the Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine will get three and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) two seats. While there is speculation that the RJD will nominate Rabri Devi, a former chief minister as its candidate, the BJP’s tally will fall from two to one.
In Tamil Nadu, there are six vacancies, and arch-rivals All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) hope to win three each.
The AIADMK has 11 members in the Upper House.
From Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP was ousted by the Congress in the 2018 state assembly elections, the Congress will add one more seat to its existing tally. Of the three vacancies arising in the state, the BJP is expected to win only one.
Among the members who will complete their term are Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Harivansh, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and union minister of state for social welfare Ramdas Athawale, Congress veteran Moti Lal Vora, his party colleagues Digvijaya Singh, Madhusudan Mistry, BJP’s Vijay Goel and Satyanarayan Jatiya, DMK’s T Siva, Kahkashan Parveen of the JD(U) and AIADMK’s Vjila Sathyananth.
Several senior functionaries of both the BJP and the Congress insisted that their respective parties are yet to start discussing candidates.