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BJP MPs during the Budget Session at Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)
BJP MPs during the Budget Session at Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)

The rise of the NDA-lite

  • While the NDA has had a high legislative productivity in its first term in Lok Sabha, the same trend is now visible in the Rajya Sabha
  • For instance, the bill to ban triple talaq in Rajya Sabha was passed through a slim majority on Tuesday evening

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is over coming the challenge of being in minority in Rajya Sabha by gaining support from friendly parties who are helping it push through its legislative agenda. Such ''NDA-lite" parties have helped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) make up for the lack of numbers in the Upper House which has been a cause of concern for the government since its first term began in 2014.

While the NDA has had a high legislative productivity in its first term in Lok Sabha, the same trend is now visible in the Rajya Sabha. In the last two weeks two key bills passed in the Upper House – The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 which seeks to ban instant triple talaq – stand testament to NDA's renewed ability of pushing through contentious bills in the Rajya Sabha.

The NDA's success in pushing through legislative productivity in this session, particularly through these two bills, has happened on the back of a divided opposition, support by friendly parties, absenteeism by members of few regional parties and walk outs by alliance partners. In all support by its allies and a few non-aligned parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) have helped in the passage of such bills.

For instance, the bill to ban triple talaq in Rajya Sabha was passed through a slim majority on Tuesday evening. Members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK) and Janata Dal (United), which together account for 19 seats, opted to walk out rather than vote against the bill. This apart from absenteeism from a few members from the opposition benches helped the NDA score a legislative win.

“The Rajya Sabha has always been a cause of worry for us. But with an increased mandate this time, our dominance in the Upper House too is set to increase as some of the regional parties have offered issue based support to us. Our floor management has also been crucial to the entire exercise as is the push for high attendance," a senior BJP leader said requesting anonymity.

Indeed, NDA's floor management and outreach to regional parties was visible during the passage of the RTI bill last week in Rajya Sabha when three key regional parties – BJD, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) – apart from the AIADMK supported the Bill and voted in its favour. That the Congress party and several other opposition parties walked out during the voting on the RTI bill further helped the NDA's cause.

With almost a week more of the budget session remaining, the government is keen on pushing through more legislative business not just in Lok Sabha but also in Rajya Sabha. Key bills listed for passage in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday are The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019; The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 and for Thursday are The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 and The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019.

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