In 2014, India’s voters elected a single-party majority government for the first time since 1984. But Narendra Modi’s historic mandate could not help it overcome one important hurdle. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, which means it is dependent on the opposition to see through its legislative agenda—that is, all legislation except money bills.
The NDA has 74 members in the 250-member upper house. The BJP has 56 Rajya Sabha MPs, compared to the Congress’s 59.
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This is a legacy issue for the BJP, as it had failed to perform well in assembly elections outside its traditional strongholds, until the so-called Modi wave of 2014. One-third of the Rajya Sabha’s members retire every two years. This means there would be a time lag in the BJP winning elections in states and being able to send new members to the Rajya Sabha.
Will its huge win in Uttar Pradesh help the BJP close this gap? It sends 31 members to the Rajya Sabha, the highest for any state. With this kind of a majority, the BJP will now have a huge share in this number.
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But the victory is unlikely to help the BJP close the gap with the opposition till the 2019 general elections.
This is because only 10 out of UP’s 31 Rajya Sabha seats will come up for re-election before the 2019 elections.
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In fact, the Rajya Sabha situation is unlikely to change drastically for the BJP until the general elections. Out of the 79 seats across different states which come up for re-election before 2019, the BJP and its allies hold 23, and the Congress holds 21.
The chart given above shows states ruled by the BJP or its allies in shades of saffron. With the saffron footprint increasing, the BJP will hope to retain most of its Rajya Sabha seats. The Congress should be worried.