New Delhi: The upcoming Rajya Sabha elections will in all likelihood increase the existing strength of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), even while the Congress would witness a further erosion.

It reflects the changing political equations in the country with the ascendancy of the BJP as the new pole of Indian politics.

However, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will still fall short of the majority in the 245-member Upper House.

Back of the envelope calculations reveal that the BJP’s strength in the Rajya Sabha is likely to grow by 12 seats to 70 members of Parliament (MPs).

Out of the 59 Rajya Sabha seats which are vacant, representatives from 33 seats have been elected unopposed, including 16 from the BJP and five from the Congress. Polling and counting for the rest of the 26 seats across seven states will take place on Friday.

The Rajya Sabha elections are significant because the Upper House has been a constant cause of concern for the NDA since it came to power. The opposition, which outnumbers the ruling alliance, has been consistently blocking key legislation in the Upper House. Though a majority will still elude the NDA, senior leaders of the BJP believe that greater representation would improve their chances in the Rajya Sabha.

“Dealing with the opposition is a major problem for the BJP because most of the comments made by the opposition are directed towards the BJP; so an increase in the numerical strength of the BJP would provide the much-needed cushion to the party," said a senior BJP leader who is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

According to senior Congress leaders, the party could face a likely decrease of 8-9 seats in the ongoing Rajya Sabha elections which could further shrink its political clout in the Upper House—making it more difficult for the party to rally the rest of the opposition ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

“It is natural that our repeated electoral losses in states will impact our tally in Rajya Sabha and so we are expecting a marginal decline in the number of seats. However, this set of elections will not change the overall composition of the House drastically. Our relations with other opposition parties will not get impacted because of this," said a senior Rajya Sabha member from the Congress, requesting anonymity.

Members of the BJP said the majority of the seats for the party are coming from the states which the party had won in the last four years of NDA rule under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These states include Uttar Pradesh, where the party expects to win at least eight out of the 10 seats going to polls.

Another major push for the party is expected from Maharashtra, where six seats are going to polls, and Bihar where the BJP is in alliance with chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), or JDU.

The BJP also expects to win one seat each in Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Haryana.

“The Rajya Sabha is not a direct representation like the Lok Sabha, but we cannot deny the fact that its members are elected by the representatives of the people in the states. The increase in numbers for the BJP reflects the growing presence of BJP in all these states. It shows that BJP has been winning elections and people have again reposed faith in the party and leadership of the Prime Minister," the BJP leader quoted above added.

BJP leaders also said that although the party has been the single-largest in Rajya Sabha since August last year, many important bills, including one to ban instant triple talaq and another to provide constitutional status to the other backward classes commission, have not been cleared by the Upper House.

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