New Delhi: Opposition parties will meet on Monday to discuss strategy and evolve a consensus for elections to the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament that begins on 18 July.

Election to the post of deputy chairman is a key test for opposition parties led by Congress, as they look to retain the position. Meanwhile, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is in minority in the upper house, is keen that a candidate of its choice wins the election.

“There is a meeting called by Congress on Monday evening to discuss the upcoming election to the post of deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha. So far, there has been no discussion on the issue. It is necessary for all opposition parties to come together on this issue. We will also discuss the strategy for the upcoming session," a senior leader from one of the left parties said, asking not to be named.

The term of deputy chairman P.J. Kurien ended on 1 July. According to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Rajya Sabha, in the absence of a deputy chairman, the vice-president may nominate from among the members of the council a panel of not more than six vice-chairmen to preside over the council.

Opposition parties may face some trouble finalizing a candidate, though. Left parties are opposing a candidate from Trinamool Congress, which has the third-highest strength in the Rajya Sabha.

The ruling NDA is also keen to have its candidate elected to the crucial post and senior leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) argue that the strength of the opposition parties is in the Rajya Sabha.

“BJP is the single-largest party in Rajya Sabha, but NDA is well short of the 123-member half-way mark in Rajya Sabha. NDA won the election of vice-president and now, we want to win the election for the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha; it will boost the confidence of NDA members in the upper house," said a senior BJP leader who is a Rajya Sabha member.

With less than a year to go for national elections, this session is key for the NDA government at the centre to push forward its legislative agenda. Some of the key bills pending in Parliament for discussion include bills to criminalize the practice of instant triple talaq and get constitutional status for the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

Bills lined up for this session also include the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017; Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017; Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016; National Medical Commission Bill, 2017; and Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Some of the key issues on which opposition parties are looking to corner the government are the rise in mob lynchings, crimes against women, increased fuel and commodity prices, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, bank frauds and the Karnataka assembly polls.

The 18-day monsoon session of Parliament is set to be held from 18 July to 10 August.

In preparation of its plan to introduce a no-confidence motion in the monsoon session, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has despatched delegations to regional parties across the country to seek support. On Sunday, TDP member of Parliament (MP) and former Union minister Y. Sujana Chaudhry and others met Telangana Rashtra Samithi Rajya Sabha MP K. Keshava Rao at his residence.

Lok Sabha TDP floor leader Thota Narasimham, along with MP P. Ravindra Babu, was planning to meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. A communication on Sunday from the Sena office said Thackeray did not give the TDP MPs an appointment.

Yunus Lasania contributed to this story.

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